The term alternative media used to conjure up images of punk rocker and anarchist newspapers, leftist and progressive publications, and underground newspapers. No holds were barred with topics or language. But how the times have changed. Now creative and rebellious conservatives are the ones accosting the “Establishment” and they’ve spearheaded the launch of some 95 new “alternative” newspapers and magazines on college and university campuses in the U.S.
Some of these publications are intellectual, and some are decidedly in your face and even hilarious. One thing is for sure: there’s plenty of variety and plenty of “attitude” to go around. “The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy” has invaded the campus of Lehigh University under the leadership of Editor-in-Chief Neal Hoffman. “The liberal bias that pervades our university has not been able to stifle this strong conservative voice,” says Hoffman, adding, “Our staff has increased from twelve to twenty-four. The circulation has increased from 300 copies per issue to 2,000 copies.” In addition to more articles, the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy now includes more photography and new features like famous quotations and book reviews. Cristina Finetti, a senior political science and English major and Assistant Editor of TVRC, takes on political correctness in her articles. “I fear that within twenty years the entire Christmas holiday will be banned to ensure that Christians don’t offend other groups,” Finetti muses, while recommending celebrating while you can “before the ACLU completely stifles your spirit.”
The Yale Free Press operates under Editor-in-Chief Diana Feygin and boldly takes on controversial issues like abortion. “No mother should ever deny her baby a chance at life based solely on inconvenience,” one editorial read. A November feature took on “Politics and the Professors: When the classroom becomes the pulpit.” One contributor wrote, “My teacher came into class the day after the election proclaiming, ‘That’s it. This is the death of America.’ The rest of the class was eager to agree, and twenty minutes of Bush-bashing ensued.” The teacher asked whether there were any Republicans in the class, and no one was willing to say so. “See?” the teacher allegedly said, “No one in here would be stupid enough to vote for Bush.”
The Counterweight, published at The Bucknell University, bills itself as a non-partisan conservative publication that is “The other half of your ‘balanced’ education.” The tabloid-style layout, complete with color cover, boasts provocative articles like “Harass this!,” taking on flaws in the university speech code which restricts free speech. A spunky Counterweight ad features a smiling college girl in a short skirt and tank top toting a machine gun. It reads “Support Homeland Security: Subscribe.” Another ad announces “Revolutionary Radio for the college conservative” and lists a web casting address.
One of the best conservative publications is “The Centurion” journal from Rutgers University. The February cover features Paul Robeson “in his own words” and his quote, “Glory to Stalin. Forever will his name be honored and beloved in all lands.” The edgy Centurion gives awards to professors. One such award went to Dr. Drew Humphries for co-sponsoring a convicted cop-killer, Thomas Trantino, to speak on an academic panel about parole and probation, going against the wishes of the victim’s family members.
Dr. Humphries was presented or confronted with the award when Centurion staffers approached her. They video-taped the event and posted the encounter online. You can watch the video at http://www.rucenturion.com/gallery.php
The Centurion also awarded a “Liberal of the Month Award” to one Tabitha Rice for “manifesting intolerance and insensitivity of opposing views through the display of a Centurion overwritten with the word ‘DIE’ and destroying conservatively-oriented posters on doors.” A member of the Centurion staff even filed a “Bias Incident Report” against her.
These start-up publications receive a financial boost from the Campus Leadership Program whose representatives are proud of the bold reporting and humor conveyed by the publications. They show conservatives are becoming more assertive on campus, but we’ll have to wait a few years to measure the long-term consequences on campus media and culture. One thing is certain: the idea of conservatives as rebels or revolutionaries is throwing quite a few people for a loop.