Just a few short days after the “Taser this” bomb hit, all Collegian e-mail boxes and voicemails are full with the fallout from Friday’s Our View.
Responses have ranged from polite demands that the Editor in Chief be fired to some not so nice suggestions that the parents of the Editorial Board ought to be sodomized for the piece. Every now and again, a friend would pop up to offer some support, too.
I would like to personally congratulate everyone – especially the detractors – for taking their often-unexercised right to free speech for a spin.
This issue has stirred up healthy debate about free speech – and that was the point.
However, I did see some things that I found disheartening.
For one, many, especially those that didn’t get the chance to see our front-page free speech article Friday, were confused about the connection between the Florida Taser incident and our president.
There is a simple explanation for this. There is no direct connection between the two.
There is a logical link, however. Both the Andrew Meyers case and actions taken by our president last week involve challenges to our First Amendment rights.
The Editorial Board felt Andrew Meyers’ right to free speech was violated when police officers forcibly removed him from the microphone. Kerry invited him to step up to the microphone, he did ask some legitimate questions, and even thought they may have taken a turn for the absurd near the end, he had every right to finish.
While his actions after the police attempted to restrain him showed poor judgment, there was no reason for the officers to have put him in that situation in the first place.
As for President Bush, he recently challenged America’s First Amendment rights by proposing an extension on eavesdropping measures for the War on Terror.
If anything challenges the right to freedom of expression, a government permitted to stick a microphone wherever it pleases is certainly it.
These two incidents relating to the suppression of free speech, I think, warrants juxtaposition.
However, the truth is, the Editorial Board, on the whole, disagrees with the president’s polices and that is why the decision was made.
Many people feel that the Editorial Board’s choice to mention the president was inexcusable and destroyed our credibility.
If making a negative statement about President Bush can do this, the Editorial Board’s credibility has been gone for a long a time.
The Ed Board has commented almost every time our president has made national news with new policies, updates on the war, etc., it has been almost exclusively negative.
Just last week the Editorial Board ran a piece on Bush’s speech announcing his proposal for a limited withdrawal of troops in the coming year.
It was voted on it, Bush was run through the ringer, and, as usual, very few raised questions about the paper’s bias.
I think, for as much as people have been trying to turn this into an issue about the political leaning of the Editorial Board, the big issue is the other bold word that ran alongside it.
Was the choice to use the f-word childish and stupid? Yes. But the board was well within its rights to print it.
There is no “but” following the freedoms we are guaranteed in the First Amendment. There is no stipulation that says speech should be prohibited because it might be offensive.
The only limitations that exist have been put in place to protect people from physical harm, and to prevent the printing of damaging falsities.
In this instance, the Editorial Board has done neither.
Editorials Editor Sean Reed is a junior political science major. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org