Should The Rocky Mountain Collegian run the controversial images recently depicted of the Prophet Muhammad?
No issue in the current school year has been so divisive amongst the Collegian's editorial board. In the end the decision whether or not to print the cartoons came down not to a vote, but a question of legality.
We simply could not be assured of our legal rights to reproduce the images at the time of publication. Had the option been available, it is quite likely that the board would have approved the use of the photos and that they would have been printed in today's edition. Instead we are making available, to those who wish to view them, an Internet link which provides the images involved in the controversy.
We feel there is no right or wrong answer to this issue. Opponents of running the images questioned the necessity to print something that was so obviously hurtful to a great number of people. They also questioned the necessity of including the cartoons, which could instead be described in words.
Proponents of running the images felt that the story was incomplete without the source of all the controversy – the pictures themselves. There was also sentiment as to whom we served and whether or not fear of retribution should be taken into regard when making this decision. The First Amendment certainly would have allowed it.
In such a complex issue, we feel it comes down to an individual's personal perspective. Some people may not understand the offensive nature of the caricatures, while others see them as being disrespectful of another culture.
There was no mandate in our decision not to run the images. In the end we have probably done less damage than if we had printed the images.
Whether or not it was the right decision is irrelevant because no decision was made – it was just a matter of law.