Offensive Encounters

Tristan Gavin


Just when you think your school is aptly sensitive to cultural issues, someone goes and paints their face. Pierre Thomas, a French transfer student, is a mime and has been wearing the traditional makeup and clothing of his people for months now. The issue has just surfaced after attendees of a Tau Kappa Epsilon Halloween party saw Thomas and found his outfit to be “more offensive than the Z-word.”

“You can’t just go around in whiteface and expect nobody to make a big deal about it. The worst part is that our Euro-normative classmates hardly took notice,” said Culturally Aware on Whitman Encounters.

“That is why I hate frats,” said GDI Joe in response to the thread started by Culturally Aware. Neither Pierre nor his offended counterparts are Greek-affiliated, but still went to hang out at TKE to complain about TKE.

After a fruitless phone interview with Pierre, The Pioneer was finally able to sit down with him to discuss the repercussions of what has been deemed “maybe a hate crime.”

“[Gesticulates feverishly],” Thomas said. Thomas looked surprised about the backlash of his outfit, although his highly drawn eyebrows give him the perpetual look of astonishment.

“Pierre seems to be trapped in a glass case of emotion,” said translator Andrew Christensen, interpreting some of Thomas’ more animated gestures.

“[Either scratching head with confusion or addressing a lice problem likely caused by the ugly French hat he wears every day],” Thomas added.

The administration has yet to set a precedent for whiteface incidents but is likely to side with Whitman Encounters on this one. “The website just seems to be a voice of reason on campus,” said George Bridges, who went on to admit that he really only looks at the site to see posts about himself.

“This site exists as a sort of social safety net around campus, catching all of the issues the rest of the school overlooked and raising them anonymously to other anonymous people anonymously,” said Anderson C-Section Resident Assistant Nathan Sany, who admits to posting under the name “Anonymous.” “I think some of the great debates of our time have gone on behind the veil of passive aggression that the site so artfully builds.”

Thomas joined in on the online discussion but was appalled by students’ inability to verbally communicate their problems, relying upon means other than talking to voice otherwise stifled opinions. At least that is how he appeared to feel, but in the interview all he revealed was “[miming eating his own vomit].”

By the end of the ordeal, Thomas has two teardrops added to his makeup. It seems to be an emotional cry for help, but Walla Walla Police Department gang specialist Maxwell Barbosa feared other possibilities.

“Those tears could represent people he has killed or time served in prison. Or perhaps the number of people he has mimed killing, or time mimed to be spent in jail.”

Whether or not Thomas has killed anyone over the ordeal is beyond the point.  The more important issue is that students on a website anonymously came forward and expressed that they were offended. Thomas’ lack of awareness for the other students’ culture of hypersensitivity was, frankly, hyperinsensitive.