On April 2, 2012, the editor of The Daily Free Press, Boston University’s student newspaper, issued a letter of apology to “the Boston community and whomever else it may concern.” The note addressed a joke the paper had printed in its April Fool’s Day issue—one jokingly describing a sexual assault. “Our aim,” the paper’s editor wrote, with a tone full of contrition, “was to publish satirical material about Boston University as a whole, and we did not intend to perpetuate harmful stereotypes or inappropriately make light of serious issues…. We deeply regret our heartless behavior and did not mean to personally offend anyone.”
Such letters are not unusual; April 2 regrets are, at this point, almost as common as April 1 fools. The apologies come from college professors (“I had my head in April Fool’s rules,” one explained, poetically). They come from police forces (in 2013, a Dutch officer’s tweeted joke about Top Gear closed down a highway). They come from Google executives (in 2013, Google China's Kai-Fu Lee posted a joke about China's Great Firewall coming down, which many found more insulting than humorous). They come from other executives (last year, the COO of Electronic Arts, the video game designer, had to apologize for a joking tweet about a switch to Nintendo). The whole cycle of prankery—the effects of April 1's culture-wide trolling—is as predictable and as unfunny as Black Friday tramplings and sexist Super Bowl ads. Is it at all surprising that people get arrested for April Fool’s jokes gone awry? No. No, it is not.