We spoke to The Hoar about satire, free speech and who they’re targetting next
‘We’re a platform where opposing views can be exchanged’
As of late, a new website began to appear on my newsfeed. Founded by a group of Warwick students, The Hoar has been getting a fair amount of traction among my peers through its healthy dose of parody and satire. Its target: the university and its culture, which includes student publications like Warwick Boar and, of course, The Tab (a personal favourite is “In Search of the Ultimate Warwick 2” – a rundown of the best toilets on campus).
Contributors – including “Peter Snitchens”, “Keith”, and “Germaine Dworking” – use aliases to preserve anonymity, and it was this decision that interested me most about the website. So after protracted negotiations, I spoke to “Theodora Hoar”, the founder and Facebook presence of the site, and asked her to reveal a little more about this secretive organisation.
So, first things first: who exactly is Theodora Hoar?
To promote our Facebook page, we made a very friendly profile. We would have called it The Hoar, only Facebook is pretty good at deleting non-human accounts, so we opted for Theodora, which is quite similar to The.
Why did you guys create the Hoar?
The Hoar wasn’t created, The Hoar was born, quite forcefully, on the unwashed floors of the Robin’s Well basement. The lovechild of two drunks, it had a poor prospect of survival. Yet, days passed and, barely alive, it was taken into the care of a now sober collective of bellicose Warwick humanities students – each kitted with irritating verbosity, a sharp mistrust of authority, cutting grasp of irony, and a desire not to take themselves seriously.
Now a defender of free speech, satire, and novel ideas; The Hoar aims to publish the ideas and opinions typically closed out in pre-packaged campus discourse. The writers needn’t agree with everything published, we simply wishes for these voices to be heard.
Loosely, the aim of The Hoar is to create a platform where opposing unheard views can be exchanged with minimal interference from any central editorial team. Our job is to make the platform run smoothly, give it some workable content, and make it look pretty.
So do you think Warwick inhibits freedom of speech?
Yes. Not just in the brash “why can’t I say this?” libertarian sense, but also in the equally insidious manner whereby the student body (or at least the shouty few who claim to represent the student body) are welcoming self-insulation from ideas that make them “uncomfortable” or could be taken as offensive if read in a certain light.
We’d highlight three issues with this: firstly, that the uncomfortable ideas don’t simply go away if you hide from them, you just lose your practice at combating and resisting them; that the practice throws up a cohort of logical stumbling points (i.e. who is the arbiter of offence? What degree of discomfort is intolerable?). Finally, you’re never going to be able to govern to the comforts and discomforts of each individual, nothing would get done. People are people, they should not be defined by what society may expect them to find uncomfortable; they are their own damn selves. It’s this normalising force that we really find to be at odds with “free expression”.
That and the spiked poll said we’re really bad at allowing free speech.
How does the organisation work, and why do you remain anonymous?
Avoiding real names makes our style of writing easier. Strictly speaking, we are not anonymous – in say, the style of The Economist. That would imply either the adoption of views expressed as those held by the paper, or a blank cheque for any and all to provoke for the sake of provocation (though we do have a “write for us” letters page, if that’s what you’re into).
We found our inspiration in the concept of a Heteronym, as was developed by Portugal’s house author Fernando Pessoa. We have characters, each with their independent views on certain matters. These characters may disappear over time and be replaced. Nobody in particular writes to one heteronym, but instead the imperative is to think – what would “x” say about “y” in this situation? We have had some fun coming up with the possible viewpoints, and we aim to really develop the personalities of some heteronyms going forward.
But ultimately, what truly matters is that we are first and foremost a platform for expression.
What can we expect from The Hoar in the future?
In the short run: small scale events, such as CV burning clinics, stand-up philosophy and whatever else we find fitting; a continued stream of well written, non-conformist and unmolested articles, each containing innovative syntax and tedious adjective strings; and the filling out of the gap in student discourse this paper plans to inhabit.
In the long run, The Hoar intends simply to carry on as it has started.
Browse The Hoar’s articles here.