You could certainly get away with such satire on The Daily Show, but apparently not a college newspaper.
The University of Virginia’s Cavalier Daily wrote “an apology to our readers” for two stories that ran in its April Fool’s Day edition. These were the headlines:
“ABC officers tackle Native American student outside Bodo’s Bagels”
“Zeta Psi hosts ‘Rosa Parks’ party”
These refer, respectively, to the violent arrest of a black student at UVA by alcohol enforcement officers and more general stories about Greek life parties with themes like “Taco Tuesday” that are accused of cultural appropriation.
By Wednesday afternoon, the managing board was offering a “sincere apology” for its timely satire (since removed), promising to run a print apology, and even reaching out to “affected communities”:
The April Fools edition is meant to start a conversation and provide satirical commentary on important issues. The April Fools edition is not meant to come at the expense of our peers. We neglected to foresee that these pieces would come across as the latter, and for that, we regret their publication. …
We are embarrassed that our empathy for these immensely serious issues [in the black student’s arrest] was undermined by this piece. We had no intentions of victimizing another underrepresented community in the process.
We also apologize for the article satirizing themed fraternity parties. Our intention was not to perpetuate stereotypes, but to highlight the offensive nature of these themed parties in the past. Again, our readers were hurt by this piece, and that makes its publication inexcusable.
Since these pieces have been removed from the Cavalier website, who knows how offensive they might have been, but the use of current events in satire isn’t exactly new and controversial – it’s what The Onion does every day, and for the most part, very well.
While perhaps not gut busters, I have a hard time believing these stories were really that offensive – there’s no indication from the managing board how many people complained or who they were. Some people simply believe that some subjects don’t deserve to be satirized, even if the satire has noble intentions.
Or maybe this apology is an elaborate April Fools’ gag. Which would be pretty funny.