On Friday, the brothers of Syracuse University’s Theta Tau engineering frat broke their silence about the viral (very racist) video that appears to show members taking an “oath” to hate “n*ggers, sp*cs and most importantly the fuckin’ k*kes.” The incident, which sparked protests on campus and an investigation by the school’s Department of Public Safety, was, the members claim, just a bit of poorly understood theater.

In an apology the group posted online, the frat explains that the video captured a “skit” acted out as part of its “new member process” that was meant to “roast the active brothers.”

This event was never intended to be centered around racism or hate. This year, one of these brothers is a conservative Republican, and the new members roasted him by playing the part of a racist conservative character. It was a satirical sketch of an uneducated, racist, homophobic, misogynist, sexist, ableist, and intolerant person. The young man playing the part of this character nor the young man being roasted do not hold any of the horrible views espoused as a part of that sketch.

In at least one video obtained by Syracuse’s student newspaper the Daily Orange, the members not only use offensive slurs for African Americans, Hispanics, and Jewish people, but laugh at gestures simulating oral sex, call people “retarded,” make fun of “gay girly accents,” and yell “you fuckin’ k*kes, get in the fuckin’ showers!” Their portrayal of an “intolerant person” elicits howls of laughter from the audience, ostensibly comprised of fellow fraternity members.

Still, in what looks like a belated and weak attempt at damage control, the frat argues that the “disgraceful” sketch actually made a lot of active members “very uncomfortable.” After the rousing night of theater, the fraternity said it sat down with new members to chat about “their actual beliefs,” ultimately agreeing that “those words should never be spoken—in our house, or anywhere.”

We would like to believe that the new members seen in the video laughing at the horrible things being said were not laughing in concurrence with these beliefs, but in fact the opposite—that racism, sexism and homophobia are so wrong that they are laughable. None of the satire was said or done in malice.

Still, it’s hard to imagine the frat’s PR push paying dividends. After all, the behavior in the video was deemed “extremely racist, anti-semitic, homophobic, sexist, and hostile to people with disabilities” by the university’s chancellor, Kent Syverud, who suspended the frat on Wednesday. And most sentient people who disagree with this kind of vile shit probably wouldn’t be joking about it in such cavalier fashion.

“We understand that we have thrown a lot of fuel into an intolerant fire burning throughout our community,” the frat wrote, an understatement if ever there were one.

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