The Managing Board’s recent editorial, “Loveless,” emphasized style over the message it attempted to send
The Managing Board succeeded in engaging The Cavalier Daily's reader base this weekend with its lead editorial "Loveless," but probably not as intended. The editorial brought attention to the fact that a bar night at Boylan Heights was apparently being organized for the benefit of the One Love Foundation, a charity founded in the memory of the late Yeardley Love.
The members of the Managing Board expressed their concerns that an event with puns for drink names might be inappropriate considering the role alcohol played in Love's death. They did so by using more than a couple puns of their own and other rhetorical devices which were found to be in bad taste by a good deal of their readers. While an objectionable tone does not necessarily mean an argument is bad, the Managing Board shouted over its own valid points with a poor delivery.
The editorial had more than a few issues with its presentation. To begin its problems, a barrage of puns detracted from serious comments on an issue. Whatever the intent of this particular decision, the Managing Board's own selection of puns came off as tasteless to a good number of commenters. As such, the Managing Board was not in a position to criticize the fundraiser's own word choices.
Another editorial concern: Large sentences need to be broken up for clarity. The most inelegant sentence in the piece, the one which seemed to make light of Huguely's "second degree" murder charges, was a comma-laden disaster. If the Managing Board is upset people are taking that sentence in the wrong way, then perhaps the awkward phrasing is to blame.
The overly lighthearted use of language about a fresh murder case which shook a community is a difficult tightrope to walk. But doing so to implicate establishments in the Charlottesville community in a recent murder case, as if they are the sole contributors to University students' drinking habits, can only really come off as simply unreasonable. It was a genuine shock to see a sentence comparing Boylan to a "night school" which helped Huguely attain his "second degree." While he did frequent the place, Huguely did not visit Boylan on the night he murdered Love, though he did the night before.
What matters here is that this sentence in the editorial, and the apparent satirical angle of the editorial mocking the bar night, removes the focus from the larger problem of a culture driven by reckless alcohol abuse which endangers heavy drinkers and those around them.
The Managing Board is correct in pointing out that alcohol was "instrumental" in Love's death. That entire Sunday he spent drinking, Huguely did not do anything which would have been considered too socially unacceptable, at least not enough for anyone to stop him. His friends and his family knew he had a history of drunken violence, but nobody knew that history better than Huguely himself. This was simply the accepted order of things. As upsetting as it may seem, Huguely's associates cannot be blamed for behaving in a way that to them was normal. Many of us, on the other hand, have to share in the blame for allowing conditions like this to be considered "normal."
Was it the lacrosse drinking culture, the University drinking culture, or American drinking culture which normalized the drinking behavior in this fatal sequence? The temptation is to say that each is somewhat at fault, and this means pressure needs to be applied in all these areas. Throwing alcohol-fueled benefits - which makes maximal success contingent on as many drinks purchased as possible - in memory of a victim of normalized alcohol abuse can be fairly seen as unwise. Tragically, the Managing Board was very close to pushing this serious issue to the forefront, but put on such a diversion that few people managed to notice.
Sam Carrigan's column appears Wednesdays in The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.