The Freshman Picture Book is a publication produced by a student activity, the Technology Community Association. In fall of 1994, the cover was an illustration of a monkey in a lab suit, asking ""What does `intuitively obvious' mean?!". The phrase "intuitively obvious" is a common one at MIT, usually an ironic usage where something is very difficult to explain. This usage led to it being used as the title of anti-racism videos at MIT. The President of MIT declared the cover "could be misinterpreted as racially derogatory". A letter to the MIT newspaper said he acted irrationally. But the book still had to be rebound.

Postscript: In discussing this case at MIT, I would often try to bring out what I felt was the basic flaw in the reasoning - that if something could, by any stretch of the imagination, be taken to have a racist connotation, then it would be treated as if it was racist. I would illustrate this by another common MIT phrase "a drink from a firehose" - in full, the saying is "Getting an education from MIT is like taking a drink from firehose". By the "logic" here, I would ask, is using that "drink from a firehose" saying going to cause people trouble because firehoses were used against civil rights demonstrators? I should know by now that one cannot be too highly absurd. A few months later, a professor issued a public apology for "distress" caused by a physics problem framed by water cannons at a civil rights demonstration.

Raw files:
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