Protesting The Kingsmen’s Uncourtly Display

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A pixelated version of the poster in question

For the second year in a row, Columbia all-male a cappella group the Kingsmen has sparked controversy around campus with a provocative flyer campaign. Last year’s debacle featured a photo of a Kingsman himself with the text, “Rape me” and was followed up with an apology from the singing group—they had learned their lesson, it appeared.

Flyers that have recently appeared around campus call the sincerity of that apology into question. Another round of offensive advertising, very much following last year’s theme of rape, suggests that rather than take the negative press and condemnations to heart, the Kingsmen are more interested in leveraging them to attract attention.

Tonight, students plan to protest the Kingsmen’s latest oeuvre, a flyer promoting a Fall concert (which has since been cancelled, according to the protesters’ Facebook event) displaying a photo of a priest and the text, “Eleven singing boys, you say?”  The protest is scheduled for 8 pm tonight on the steps of Low, where the concert was originally scheduled to take place.

According to the most recent discussion on the protest page, the event has purportedly been moved to Sigma Chi. The protest appears to have been abandoned in favor of a discussion that will be held at 4:30 in the IRC center, but these plans could be subject to change.

The Kingsmen did not respond to a request for comments.

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  1. Protest Organizer  

    Thanks for the coverage Bwog. The protest is not abandoned yet! We will be planning the protest/response in the IRC at 4:30.

  2. freedom of speech  

    carry on kingsmen

  3. Anonymous  

    This is really dumb

  4. Alum

    cmon...I'm a former Take back the Nighter myself, but that poster is HILARIOUS. It's not at all suggesting that rape is a good thing, it's simply poking a bit of fun at the Catholic church. Jeez people, lighten up

  5. FeministsRule  

    Rape apologia alive and well on CU campus. THANKS FOR ORGANIZING! All students deserve to feel safe!

  6. Anonymous  

    Singing group... the song "Rape Me" by Nirvana... last year wasn't too ridiculous.

  7. Crown  

    Columbia is a joke. This is so out of context it is not even funny. 90% of the Kingsmen posters featured a brand new freshman, and this one was taken from the late '80s poster reserves. Get your facts straight, Bwog.

  8. Female grad

    I've known some of the Kingsmen - they're just as metrosexual or 'accepting' as anyone else. They jsut do this to see the whole community freak out/be ironic. They've had plenty of gay guys in the group before...

  9. Seriously?  

    This protest actually makes me angry and want to cry at the same time. It's obvious that none of the people protesting have actually been through any hardship and if they have they haven't had the strength or the counseling necessary to get past it. Laughter is how we get past awful things! And this is coming from someone who's actually been a victim of sexual assault.

    Also, good job ruining something I'm sure the Kingsmen have all been working really hard for. I hope more people stand up for them.

    • BC '12  

      While I may not fully agree with the protesters, your assertion that "they haven't had the strength or counseling necessary to get past" whatever hardships they've dealt with is entirely offensive. Given that 1 out of every 4 college women will be a victim of sexual assault, it is nearly guaranteed that there are survivors of sexual assault or their allies.

      For some people, survivors or not, there is just nothing funny about rape. Laughter may be how you chose to deal with your own assault, but don't project your own coping mechanisms on others. Everyone deals with sexual assault in a different way and survivors have every right to feel uncomfortable because jokes about sexual violence. You have every right not be offended, but don't pretend like it is irrational for a survivor to be upset, offended, or targeted by jokes that make light of rape. And this is coming from someone else who has also been the victim of sexual assault.

      I think in this particular case, a joke intended to take a jab at the Catholic Church is being interpreted by victims and allies as a joke about rape (which is not a far-off interpretation). I can see how some students feel the protest is an overreaction, but the much of the response (this year and last) has just made clearer the need for constructive discussion of rape culture and how it damages not only women, but all victims of sexual assault.

      • Anonymous  

        To assume that the creators of this poster intend to portray rape as frivolous is simply retarded. Or for that matter, as a jab at Catholics. Plus why does this have anything to do with women? I don't remember choir boys falling into the category of 1 out of every 4 college women.

      • But also...

        Why is it anyone's right to censor anyone else? Living in a world where every piece of comedy - successful or perhaps misjudged - is directly attacked in silenced destroys the one venue where we still honestly have the capacity for true freedom of expression. I know these guys and they're great - for goodness sakes they just want to put on an acapella concert. If you really don't like it then why not start a counter dialogue that doesn't directly target what is effectively one person's creative output? To me, that's a pretty scary world too.

    • anon  

      So, to paraphrase:

      "Everyone who is a victim of sexual assault should have dealt with their issues by now, and if they haven't, they aren't strong enough; therefore, anyone who is upset by this poster has never been through any hardship. If you have been sexually assaulted, the way that WE deal with our experience is through laughter, and if you have another approach then you are ruining the Kingsmen's show."

      I'm really, really, terribly sorry that this protest made you want to cry. Fortunately, the Kingsmen got a great deal of coverage for their show, thanks to the shock value of hundreds of sexually abused children. I hope you enjoy the show!

      • chauvinist_pig  

        "Flyers that have recently appeared around campus call the sincerity of that apology into question. Another round of offensive advertising, very much following last year’s theme of rape, suggests that rather than take the negative press and condemnations to heart, the Kingsmen are more interested in leveraging them to attract attention."

        Fact check: the Kingsmen have posted the SAME "singing boys" flyer for years. It's possibly their oldest poster. In fact, the Kingsmen posted them at the same time as last year's "rape me" flyers were displayed but even THEN no one said anything.

      • Anonymous  

        "Paraphrasing" isn't the same thing as sampling someone's words and phrases out of context and then adding your own elements to misrepresent someone's argument.

        That's more like building a straw man and then shooting it down.

  10. Anonymous  

    as a catholic who feels ashamed for the terrible things the catholic church has allowed to happen, this is a teeny bit insensitive. having heard similar jokes so many times, this isn't even especially funny.

    • Anonymous  

      Also how come this has turned into a discussion about feminism when the poster in question is clearly more offensive to catholics or maybe people who have suffered from abuse as children. There's more than enough occasions to protest against rape and mysogyny, why try to appropriate this one? Definitely agree with the comment about Christian hate (or at least about insensitivity with regards to jabs at Christians as opposed to, say, Jews).

  11. Anonymous  

    Finally, something irrelevant to be disgruntled about!

  12. Anonymous

    this is the most pathetic excuse for a protest ive ever heard....the kingsmen did nothing wrong. people are so high strung its insane. Get a sense of humor...and even if you cant take it, you're still generalizing the kingsmen as a group, I'm sure that there were members who were skeptical about these posters.

  13. Anonymous  

    A rape culture at Columbia? For making a sex joke that's probably been on The Daily Show 100 times? Feminism shouldn't be about squelching free speech. Finally, a protest I don't feel like participating in.

  14. Anonymous  

    Hmmm so instead of a concert we get a pointless protest over a stupid joke? Yeah, that sounds about right...

  15. Protest Organizer  

    Thanks Bwog commentors, for demonstrating just how necessary this protest actually is. Come SPEAKOUT tonight at 8pm at the Sundial.

  16. Anonymous  

    As a Columbia student, this is incredibly embarrassing. The drug busts bothered me less. Hopefully this doesn't get press.

  17. theres freedom of speech  

    but theres also taste. and decency. rape jokes normalize rape and sexual assault. if you can avoid public displays that might trigger victims, then avoid it. decency. respect.

  18. If

    this poster was about the Jewish religion, there would be more of an upset. just sayin'

    • Anonymous  

      Yes, who could possibly imagine a self-deprecating Jew living in the Upper West Side? Clearly the snarky comments about the mobile sukkah on Bwog a few days ago were just a slice of the "religious hate culture" on campus.

  19. Anonymous  

    This is probably the most disappointed I've ever been with bwog comments.

    This really isn't funny. It should be enough that this poster is incredibly triggering, and trivializes the suffering of the many people who were victims of sexual abuse. What really upsets me, though, is this implication that somehow this is ok because, you know, lolcatholics, amirite? Let's get something straight: you may think this is ok because you're mocking the monolithic institution of the Catholic Church, but remember who the real victims were, and are. Children too young to comprehend the sick evil twisted things to which they were being subjected, who continue to live with the reality of those things today. I think a lot of liberal people, who recognize and work against rape culture, who consider themselves feminists, who would otherwise be HORRIFIED at these posters, are able to laugh them off because they can focus on the Catholic Church as the focal point of the humor - instead of the VICTIMS OF RAPE. Remember that the Catholic Church isn't the victim here.

    This isn't OK.

    • Anonymous  

      That's all well and good, but it's not trivializing rape. If anything it is setting up Catholic priests as bad guys to be feared.

      But I have a question that is intended to provoke discussion. Why is it that whatever feminists says automatically has to be accepted as gospel, and that anyone who disagrees with them is an aggressor, paternalist, supporter of (insert bad thing here), etc? Who's being aggressive here?

      But go ahead, keep policing everything everyone says and does until the world is perfect. I'll chuckle to myself when everyone thinks you're ridiculous and just ignores you completely (lol just kidding it has happened already)

    • Anonymous  

      What does "triggering" mean? I hear it all the time.

  20. Anonymous  

    personally, i was offended by the terrible puns on the rest of the posters... 'there's a vas deferens between us and the co-ed acapella groups'? I facepalmed.

  21. SEAS '11 and Catholic

    God, this place has gotten PC in the last 5 months. At this rate, shouldn't Orgo Night have been banned by now? The poster was offensive, demeaning, and unacceptable, but not everything needs to be protested. Now shut up and go to class.

  22. i love how the feminist

    twisted this to be about them again. it was a harmless joke that we've all heard a hundred times about Catholic priests. It was only meant to catch your attention for two seconds.

  23. Columbia University  

    Protest-for-Hire (Available for weddings and birthdays).

  24. Anonymous

    How many Columbia students does it take to change a lightbulb?

    Seventy-six - one to change the lightbulb, fifty to protest the lightbulb's right to not change, and twenty-five to hold a counter-protest.

    • Incidentally

      I'd like to protest the changing of the lightbulbs in John Jay Dining Hall. The fluorescent bulbs straight-up RUIN that place. Why does meal time have to feel as bland and institutional as the rest of this school? I don't care if incandescent bulbs are bad for the environment, I want future generations to show up and say, "Yay, Hogwarts!"

    • You said it wrong...  

      76. 50 to protest the lightbulb's right to remain, 25 to counter protest, and 1 SEAS student to actually get up and change the lightbulb.

  25. Anonymous  

    i think i'm going to protest the fact that i get weekly Facebook invited from some group that calls themselves the "Radical C.U.N.T.S"

  26. Clarity, CC'12  

    "The Kingsmen have continually generated flyers and posted them across campus that perpetuate a rape culture and blatantly show a disregard for sexual assault and abuse as an issue."

    I get that sexual assault, rape, and abuse are sensitive issues but I think that you protestors are reading far, far too deeply into this poster. Here's an exercise, try taking the poster at face value: a priest is inquiring about boys' singing. You can leave it at that. We don't know why he is asking.

    Or you can say, hey maybe this is related to the issue of rape in the catholic church. Maybe that's what this is about. But you have to make two huge leaps for that to make any sense. First, the priest in the poster is asking about boys' singing BECAUSE he is interested in them in a sexual way. Second, his interest is enough that he would take action and actually attempt to sexually assault them. Or at least that is what he is thinking about doing in the future, in this picture. People, those are two enormous leaps from a picture of a priest saying "there are some kids singing somewhere?"

    I feel like maybe it's just the protestor mentality, but you all allow your emotions to get the best of you. You have your own ideas of what the poster is meant to convey and you decide that that is EXACTLY what the Kingsmen had in mind when they put it up.
    A priest asking where kids are singing? The Kingsmen must be supporting and perpetuating a "rape culture" on campus! They must be stopped!

    For example, one person described the poster as "an ignorant expression of their [the kingsmen] ridiculous privelege and hideous interpretation on humor." You have no idea what their intent was with this poster. You don't know if it was meant to be humorous but you believe that was one of their intentions, without proof, so you accept it as a truth. That is ignorant. Also, it's spelled "privilege" by the way.

    You want to know the truth, protestors? Or anybody who took offense to their poster? I don't know what their intention was but I am certain of one thing. The Kingsmen want to be talked about and they wanted people to come to their concert. They believed the poster would generate attention and press because there are a lot of emotionally driven Columbians who enjoy immediately jumping to conclusions so they can get their drums and horns and cry and protest and start facebook groups. And guess what, that is exactly what happened. They succeeded, and I think you all missed the point, hard.

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