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LMU reacts to FAW keynote choice

LMU discusses First Amendment Week speaker Seth MacFarlane.

By Kyle Oddis, Asst. News Editor


Published: Sunday, February 7, 2010

Updated: Monday, February 8, 2010

LMU’s Eighth Annual First Amendment Week begins tomorrow, and the buzz surrounding this year’s selected keynote speaker has been met with heightened anticipation. Seth MacFarlane, the creator of the simultaneously acclaimed and criticized animated sitcom “Family Guy,” has been invited by ASLMU and the Loyolan to kick off the week.

MacFarlane was selected to speak in efforts to highlight the importance of freedom of speech in the First Amendment and is a speaker whom many on campus feel is an example not only of controversy, but of the freedoms granted by the First Amendment in the United States Constitution, extending especially through the media.

California Catholic Daily, in an article on Feb. 3, stated, “The show ‘Family Guy’ is a vulgar parody of American life. Odd that LMU would choose this guy as keynote at First Amendment Week conference,” and goes on to express that MacFarlane has no boundaries when it comes to poking fun at different groups in “Family Guy.” Though the publication made a point to express distaste in the sitcom, it goes on to affirm that MacFarlane is an individual whose work encompasses free speech rights, which is the reason he was selected as this year’s keynote speaker.

“Whether you love ‘Family Guy’ or find it completely distasteful, it is hard to make the argument that there is a more important satirical voice out there than the one found in ‘Family Guy,’” expressed Dr. Wayne le Cheminant, a professor of political science at LMU, who said that he loves the show. “While I love ‘Family Guy’ for its laugh-out-loud comedy, I believe that it has a number of important things to say. First, it demands that we re-examine, continually, our biases and prejudices. Second, in watching ‘Family Guy’ one cannot help but realize that our tools for moral judgment, like Peter Griffin’s, are often lacking.”

Reactions from other members of the LMU community reflect similarly, as most appear to receive MacFarlane as a welcomed and appreciated example of freedom of speech.
Mike Onofre, a freshman biology major, contended that MacFarlane’s influence could help open up the minds of people in a way that helps eliminate what he called an “elephant that is present so often with so many issues in life,” particularly within the social dynamics of college.

“I’m glad someone who has challenged so many societal norms in such a public and obvious way on his show is coming to [LMU],” Onofre said.

Other students are less than thrilled about MacFarlane’s visit.  “I am not an avid watcher, but from what I have seen, it is pretty blunt and obnoxious,” said Claire Yearian, a freshman biology major, who said she’s not surprised that the show has been met with controversy, but that having MacFarlane come to speak sounds interesting, and she may attend despite not being a devoted fan.

Though the Parents Television Council frequently criticizes “Family Guy” for its content, strong fan support and DVD sales have overshadowed the fact that the show has been cancelled twice.

“I feel like Seth MacFarlane really pushes the boundaries in terms of censorship, and is one of those guys that will continually create controversy over whether the show is too racy or not,” commented Casey Ohashi, a sophomore communication studies major. “The fact that he always covers controversial material is what makes the show entertaining and unique, so, I’m for it.”

MacFarlane will be speaking in Burns Back Court tomorrow at 7:30 p.m.

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