Squeeze Put on Orange High School's Pulp Magazine


Dear Lynn:

I read with interest reporter Doug "Teacher's Pet" Irving's piece in the Orange County Register about your principal, SK Johnson, confiscating your magazine over a cover image he believed looked too much like a gang tattoo and content inside he found questionable.

It appears from the story that you and your Pulpers are receiving the support of the Student Press Law Center, whose chief notes that California has strong laws protecting the free-speech rights of students. Congratulations!

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It also appears from the reader comments to the Register's online version of the story that many of that pub's readers are siding with the principal. Don't get too discouraged; Register readers would have marched their own children into Nazi ovens. Sounds as if they'd grant more rights to their loathed "illegals" than they would high school kids. Take solace in the fact that most of them will be dead soon.

So, please keep your chin up . . . and then prepare to lose this round.

In 1974, National Lampoon--which at that time created amazingly hilarious humor magazines instead of amazingly unfunny teen movies--released what was arguably its best issue ever: the 1964 High School Yearbook Parody. Elements of that gag issue wound up working their way into the script for Animal House, which was created at a time when National Lampoon created an amazingly hilarious teen movie (with the help of Johns Landis and Belushi, of course).

So, in my capacity as editor of the April Fool's Day edition of the campus newspaper, I stole whole from National Lampoon's 1964 High School Yearbook Parody, as well as some bits from Mad Magazine and Cracked. For this, I was hauled into the principal's office with the editor-in-chief and our faculty adviser. Mrs. Winters told me the April Fool's Day paper was tasteless, that I'd opened up my school to a potential plagiarism lawsuit from the Lampoon and that I could have needlessly frightened a vice principal's wife with a "news story" about him being run over by a steamroller (prompting her, when informed of the accident, to tell authorities, "Well, slide him under the door, I'm busy.").

The upshot was, the faculty adviser was replaced before my senior year and I would serve alongside a co-editor to keep me honest.

Yes, my case was a little different than yours, Lynn. You had the good sense to create what I assume to be original material. But ever since my trip to the principal's office, I have been keen to follow other instances where high school editors get called to the carpet, and I can report that everyone I have read about has resulted in the actions of principals, administrators and board members being upheld by the courts.

So my advice would be to tone down future issues of the Pulp. Be as creative and aggressive as you can given the restraints. Then high-tail it out of that bass-ackward high school and create some magazines that'll really make 'em sorry.

Your partner in crime,

MC Graylocks

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