By Alan Prendergast
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For the most part, What's So Funny is content to leave the reporting to the reporters. While seasoned journalists here like to go out on "assignment," track down "leads" and "avoid plagiarism," What's So Funny is content to just hang around the office, popping painkillers and teasing the kids at the daycare across the alley. You should see how mad they get when they accidentally toss a ball over the fence and you retrieve it and pretend to throw it back and then just punt it into the street; they start crying and yelling, calling for the playground monitor to help them. Seeing that really helps get the creative juices flowing.
Sometimes, though, What's So Funny gets a nose for news. Every once in a while we're like, "Oh, we in the newspaper business are supposed to report, you say? Well, check this out, bitches." Then we drop some mind-blowing reporting bomb in our column that the editors at the Rockyand the Postpass around at meetings for weeks afterward, saying, "You see this? This is exactly the kind of stuff you guys should be coming up with."
This week is no exception.
Utilizing many of the same skills that helped us earn enough merit badges to obtain the rank of Webelo -- aside from the "Secret-Keeping Badge," one that we have yet to see on another scout, despite Scoutmaster Jenning's assurances -- we got our hands on a top-secret document: Ward Churchill's response to the withholding of his Teaching Recognition Award.
Every year, the Herd -- the student faction of CU's alumni association -- conducts a survey to determine students' favorite professor. That professor then receives a $500 prize, which most immediately waste on candy. This year, Churchill blew all the other profs out of the water, yet the alumni association -- led by Kent Zimmerman, a man so brilliant that a few months ago he actually proposed putting a giant toilet on the CU campus so that people could symbolically flush their institutional gripes away -- refuses to give Churchill the award until the Board of Regents-ordered investigation of Churchill is completed. A faculty committee is currently probing allegations of plagiarism, misusing others' work, and whether the prof misrepresented himself as an American Indian to gain credibility.
Churchill has been abnormally reticent regarding the alumni association's decision, simply pointing out that its behavior highlights its ridiculousness better than he ever could. That's pretty calm for a man who two weeks ago delivered a heated, fifty-page, single-spaced response to the charges against him. But some crack investigative work by What's So Funny shows that Churchill may not be so blasé about the award delay; that his nonchalant facade is a mere cloaking agent, akin to telling someone you're okay when you're not okay, or that you're a Cherokee Indian when you're actually just a leathery-looking white dude. What follows is Churchill's response to the Alumni Association, exactly as we found it scribbled on a pile of Arby's napkins:
When queried by reporters concerning his views on the assassination of John F. Kennedy in November 1963, Malcolm X famously -- and quite charitably, all things considered -- replied that it was merely a case of "chickens coming home to roost." That really doesn't have anything to do with anything, but Kent Zimmerman you better give me my goddamned award, or I will sneak into your house at night and shit all over your living room, just like roosting chickens would. I'm a Native American! You don't think I can sneak into your house? We know how to walk without being heard; our grandfathers taught us at the, uh, pow-wow, you know, with the kiva and everything. There was smoke. I'm pretty sure it was sage, maybe juniper. Wigwam! Tepee! Trail of Tears! Injustice, goddamn it, I won't tolerate it! The students gave me that award. Never mind that I faked my academic arguments and lied about being a Cherokee...may have, may have done those things. It doesn't matter. Lee Harvey Oswald! Black Panthers! Che Guevara! The revolution will not be televised! Ward Churchill needs that $500, Kent Zimmerman! How else is he going to afford the authentic Seneca headdress he already ordered on eBay? If I don't send a check, I'll get blacklisted and won't be able to order anything online again! What's this investigation have to do with what the students think of me? Nothing. Plus I'm a really good artist! I draw Western landscapes! One time I did a portrait of Chief Joseph Nez Perce! It was great; he looked like a hawk. He was hawk-like. Geronimo! Sitting Bull! Prisoners at Guantanamo Bay detained without rights! Cough up that award, Zimmerman, I'm warning you! The full measure of your guilt can never be fully balanced or atoned for.
Churchill went on for another 45 napkins, but What's So Funny was already able to conclude, based on exhaustive investigation, that CU students probably voted for Churchill because he was the only professor whose name they could remember. So we quit reading. There were children across the alley to tease.