Wisconsin paper set ablaze, stuffed in toilets in response to April Fool’s Day articles

WISCONSIN – Unidentified protestersstole about 100 copies of the student newspaper at the University ofWisconsin-Marathon County last week burning half and stuffing the rest downtoilets.Forum Editor in Chief Paul Kurth says he does not knowwho is behind the theft, but he thinks it could be in response to AprilFool’s Day articles in their latest edition, which some students andfaculty did not find amusing.Forum adviser Mark Parman said about50 copies of the April 8 issue were burned outside a main campus building onApril 9. Kurth said 50 more copies were found stuffed in toilets in themen’s room of the student union. The issue featured several AprilFool’s Day stories including a front-page headline, “Bush sends aidto campus” above a photo of bombs dropping on the university. The paperalso printed an interview with “Jesus,” a man who runs the Web siteDateJesus.com.Kurth said the articles are intended to be funny. “Idon’t see how people could have a big problem with that.”ButBrandon Cacek, president of the student association, said he was approached byseveral students who complained about the Forum’s depiction ofJesus the week before Easter. He declined to identify the students, but he saidthey requested the student association cut the newspaper’sfunding. “I told them I couldn’t,” Caceksaid.Cacek said a student association committee, which divides thestudent activity fees among campus groups including the Forum, decidedthat it was too close to the end of the school year to take action against thisyear’s newspaper staff. “A lot of people think that with anew editor there’ll be a new beginning next year. So they’re notgoing to try to take away funding this year and penalize the group that comes innext,” Cacek said.Kurth said the April Fool’s Day articles werejust the latest content in the monthly paper to be criticized this school year.“I think it’s been building up each issue as the year wenton.”He said controversy began after the first issue of the schoolyear featured a profile of a 97-year-old man who has a giant rooster statue inhis yard. The story’s headline read, “Old man, hugecock.”Kurth said he received e-mails from faculty members voicingcomplaints about the sexual innuendo, but he said he chose to ignore thecomplaints because he was not given permission to publish the e-mails as lettersto the editor.Kurth said he has not received any complaints fromstudents about coverage in the Forum. “It would be different ifstudents were to come complain, or show their disgust with the paper We mightchange the way we do things,” Kurth said.Parman said theForum is not pursuing a formal investigation of the thefts. “Idon’t think there’s any hard evidence to point to anyone doingit,” he said.Kurth said the thefts would not change the way thestaff approaches its stories. “We’ve got a pretty good story goingfor our last issue,” he said, “so we’re coming outregardless.”