"Keep the Cat Free"

A note on last week’s Hangman

Moving onwards from our last issue

In last week’s Felix, an article was published in the Hangman section which many readers felt incited sexual violence, trivialised rape and generally contributed to the idea of a rape culture. I would like to take the opportunity to assure readers that this was in no way our intention, and we all agree that a piece of content which does this is wholly unacceptable.

Following complaints addressed personally to me, or otherwise, I have taken the decision to end the Hangman section for the foreseeable future. The offending article, quite simply, failed in its ill-judged attempt at humour and did not warrant publication. We are now taking the time to carefully consider how any section designed with the sole intention of being humourous can feature and simultaneously exist to the same standard as the rest of this publication. The level of offence that Hangman caused is not something that should be admired or actively sought after.

This incident has highlighted several major flaws in our quality control process, for which I take full responsibility. As a result, I am taking concrete steps to ensure that this does not happen again. Alongside the removal of the Hangman section, any future section with the intention of comedy or satire will be held to more stringent content guidelines and I will ensure that the consequences of every article we publish are considered fully. I am also making certain that our writing team is fully educated on and sensitive to topics that could cause offence if handled improperly.

Of course, humour does have a place in Felix, but now is the time to take a serious step back from the events of last week and refocus our attention into something that actually deserves a place in this publication. We need something that sits comfortably alongside such reasoned debate and content such as that I have had the privilege of editing, and not something that pushes the boundaries of offence for the sake of an article that barely provides a modicum of humour.

I do deeply regret my own personal failure in not having taken action to prevent this happening in the first place, and I would like to reassure readers that after this incident the content that goes into any section will be radically rethought before publication.

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Comments (24 comments)

Rory Fenton

Saturday February 18 2012 11:15

It wasn't promoting date rape, but it was trivialising it.

I love Hangman's we-don't-give-a-shit attitude. It's at it's funniest when it's at its most outrageous. But there is a fundamental difference between joking about Harry Potter- inspired orgies and making light of rape, regardless of the intention. Remember that given the size of Felix's readership, there will be readers who have been raped.

I do hope Hangman comes back soon and that it continues to be crazy and outrageous. But making fun, regardless of the intention, of one of the most traumatic things that can happen to a person? That crossed a line and Matt was right to respond.


Laurence Pope

Monday February 20 2012 12:20

Socks with sandals, the only way to go baby.

Elisabeth Burks

Monday February 20 2012 13:54

Are they removing the centrefold too?

Alexander Karapetian

Monday February 20 2012 15:26

No, there was just nobody to do it last week. Centrefolds are still going :)

Joseph Letts - Felix Editor (Author)

Monday February 20 2012 15:30

Alex is correct, Centrefolds haven't been dropped.

James Greenhalgh

Tuesday February 21 2012 20:55

Oh lads... Lads, lads, lads... You let yourself down. Has a life of reading 4chan and reddit really desensitised you so completely to the idea that words have an effect beyond that which occurs to you? This student paper is not some channel 4 exercise in pushing the boundaries of comedy. This is a student newspaper, whose output should reflect what the student body of imperial college considers acceptable.

I challenge the candidates for this year's Felix Editorship to say precisely where they think the voice of Imperial sits on this issue. Those who wish to argue that this was an unnecessary breach of freedom of speech can then follow those candidates who are willing to take this position.

Otherwise I fear you may have to take note of the fact that your opinion is, electorally and consequently, democratically, speaking, abhorrent.

Daniel W L Wan

Wednesday February 29 2012 17:32

Love your grave concern that centrefolds have been dropped too, Beth



Friday February 17 2012 13:07

What a load of nonsense.


Friday February 17 2012 15:15

How did anyone miss the obvious irony of the original article? It was clearly a dig at geeky IC males and their inability to get laid - the joke was on them, not girls. It was definitely not intended to promote date rape.

The joke was lame and tasteless, but does that warrant the massive retraction, apology, and removal of the entire section? Isn't that section the only reason 50% of students even pick the paper up?

Hangman has always been a place that provokes. People read it knowing what to expect (quote: Hangman 2.0: The biggest comeback since your last orgy - should give you an idea of what to expect). Just as people know the jokes Jimmy Carr/Frankie Boyle will come up with.

It wasn't the best judgement to publish a piece that was on the risky side, but the response to one Telegraph journalist's opinion has been ridiculous. Did the Editor read the piece before publication? If so, why the change of opinion now?

Removing hangman and centrefold: a very sad day for Felix.


Friday February 17 2012 17:07

I am a woman and what does "tongue-in-cheek" mean?


Friday February 17 2012 18:57

If we're making changes, I propose we also alter the slogan to "Keep the Cat Backbone-Free".

The mind boggles

Friday February 17 2012 21:50

This is parody right?

Piss Wizard

Sunday February 19 2012 02:24

This is cool.

Rape isn't funny. If you think it is maybe have a good hard think about why that's a fucking shitty position to take.

Neutered Cat

Sunday February 19 2012 05:30

Cutting out Hangman and Centrefold entirely is an extremely ham-fisted approach to making amends/apologising. Sure, why not, let's get rid of them entirely and bow to the media hysteria because we're too damn scared to offend anyone again, even if they have no right to be. This course of action is the easy way out.

Melancholy Trousers

Sunday February 19 2012 05:45

If you want Hangman back, all you need to do is create a shitstorm over Twitter, wait for a newspaper to pick up on it and then for a complete u-turn in order to avoid any further criticism.


Sunday February 19 2012 22:33

Would you joke about rape with a rape victim?

I hope to God you wouldn't and can see why this would be absolutely repugnant behaviour. Imperial isn't some crime free utopia: you can damn well bet that rape victims read that article, how do you think they felt? I think the distress that potentially could have caused them does indeed warrant a 'massive retraction and apology'.

People aren't objecting to this article because they think male students are going to read it, think Rohypnol sounds like a good idea and try it. They're not objecting because they 'missed the irony'. People are objecting because joking about rape and trivialising rape with these jokes is wrong.

You can 'provoke', be 'risky' and 'lame and tasteless' without making light of a serious, depressingly prevalent and devastating crime because, actually, joking about rape is none of these things: it's disgusting.

So yes, I absolutely support this response and think Matt's apology was pretty much perfect.

Cat fish

Monday February 20 2012 04:52

Came across a spine stall on a recent trip to Thailand. Had I known that you have lost yours, I would have bought you one.

Irate of Tunbridge Wells

Monday February 20 2012 09:30

If you're offended by it then don't bloody read it - leave the fun to everyone else, you humourless Guardian reading sandal wearers.


Monday February 20 2012 22:07

@irate from tunbridge wells,

you absolute idiot. the article was from the telegraph, a right wing paper. the guardian is a left wing paper. therefore, you GOT THE WRONG FUCKING PEOPLE. jesus christ, with students with intellect like yours its no wonder we're slipping down the rankings.

I'm dissapointed by ICU

Tuesday February 21 2012 11:13

I'm more than a little dissapointed that, in a week when Felix is busy apologising for hangman, Imperial College Union submitted the election advert that they did. It was hardly an appropriate way to help the paper look more appropriate under scrutiny, and it simply makes the union itself seem childish - meaning it won't be taken seriously by college (or anyone else for that matter).

Are the ICU elections really desperate enough to resort to asking who has the biggest d**k? Pathetic.


Thursday February 23 2012 19:06

Hangman on Sunday?

Irate of Tunbridge Wells

Friday February 24 2012 12:26

joseph: No dear. You're wrong. I wasn't referencing that at all.

I was referring to the Grauniad readers who take a notebook and pencil down to their lounge when watching Top Gear to see what they can take offence at and complain about. Hell, it was a parody. I don't even think they're (all) like that. I was just playing on the Islington Guardian reader stereotype.

I don't care if you don't find something funny. I care if I do. And if I do, I want to see more of it. I didn't find that article funny, but the rest of Hangman usually was. Removing Hangman is a huge mistake, and a step backwards for Felix.

With people with perceptiveness like yours, and a brilliant sense of irony like yours, we can only go up in the league tables!

A Reader

Wednesday February 29 2012 15:44

You realise no one gives a shit about the rest of Felix, right? Who cares what some greasy, hairy physics undergrad thinks about nothing? No one's gonna pick it up now unless they need some cheap bog roll.

depressed alumnus

Monday March 12 2012 23:47

What are those words at the top of the page above 'FELIX' again?

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