Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Clareification - update

I received this email from a student at Clare College. Very interesting perspective.


I noticed you said on your blog that you wanted a Clare student's
perspective on the Mohammed cartoons thing. I'm a second year student
at Clare and I know the guest editor well. I'm not going to give his
name, as he has asked personally that no one does and I see no need to
violate that request. A few points, though, that might not be
apparent to the outsider. Lots of the blogosphere seems to be
perplexed that no Clare students are making comment. I think there are
three main reasons for this, none of which are that Clare students are
timid in the face of religion. First, the publication actually
happened quite a while ago (nearly 3 weeks) so lots of people just
don't think it's that exciting any more. Most don't read blogs and the
press have dropped it, so it seems to most people that the story has
petered out.

Second, there has been a huge, even unprecedented perhaps, amount of
discussion about this on the Union of Clare Students (UCS) internal
forum (only accessible with a Cambridge IP address). I mean 25 full
pages of discussion, around 10,000 page views. I can assure you that
almost all the posts are in support of the guest editor (even those
that express disgust with the content) and there are people who are
preparing action in the event that the guest editor is punished.

Third, what the blogosphere doesn't seem to realise/know is that lots
of the British press (especially on the left) love nothing better than
to get a good anti-elitism anti-Cambridge story. It's been great to
see so many pro-freedom of speech blogs shout out support for
Clareification, but this time last week it looked like the opposite
would be the case: lots of anti-elite press coverage making us out to
be institutionally racist. Everyone agreed that could only be a bad
thing for us (especially with regard to admissions and donations) so
most people thought it was better to shut up and let the left-wing
press get over the story as quickly as possible. If you could see the
UCS forum, you'd know what I mean. There's been lots and lots of
internal pressure on the college authorities to support the guest
editor in private, but most of us realise that when it comes to
Cambridge and things the liberal media disapprove of, no publicity is
good publicity. The silence in general, insofar as it really exists,
is much more the result of a sense of solidarity as Cambridge students
than timidity in the face of outrage.

Some other brief points: it's been reported that the college has cut
the magazine's funding. This is bollocks – the college doesn't fund it
to begin with, the UCS does. Second, the big issue for college is the
use of communal money to call Mohammed a "violent paedophile", not the
fact that those words were printed. No one seems to have a problem
with the guest editor doing that with his own money, but more people
were concerned that – though they supported the editor's right to say
it in principle – they didn't want to be subsidising it.

I hope this helps answer some of your questions.

A Clare Student