Sep 232007
Authors: Ryan Nowell

As you’ve all probably heard, it’s been quite the fallout since Friday concerning that edition’s embedded f-bomb.

A few columnists have resigned, inboxes and voicemails have been filling up, local news networks have started circling the student media center, everyone will receive pay cuts, a few people’s jobs are on the line and the paper lost some advertisers.

While a reaction was expected, I don’t think anyone here anticipated it being this large. Here’s a brief rundown on the many kinds of offense people have decided to take from this:

Some construed it as being derogatory towards the military.

Let’s make it clear that no one on this staff has anything but the utmost respect for those that have served in the armed forces, past and present. To take criticism directed towards an elected civilian and apply that to the soldiers under that official’s command is a highly presumptuous, not to mention very mannered, way to interpret political statements.

Soldiers don’t make their own orders, and any critique of any administration’s military agenda is a critique of that administration. The people sworn to follow orders are our friends, neighbors, and family members, who are risking a lot for very noble reasons.

No one is besmirching their sacrifice. We’re only questioning the leaders that would sacrifice them.

Other people were bothered that we disrespected the president. And yes, we did, absolutely.

Respect is not won by an election. Titles do not endow worth. Respect needs to be earned, and in this instance, according to the Collegian Editorial Board, it was not. Yes, he’s our commander-and-chief. He is also accountable.

Still others were offended by the language. And why, I couldn’t agree more.

Such churlish mouth-offery hasn’t been endured since Kaiser Wilhelm pronounced the Prussian czarina “a most winsome-less unscrupule”. And we all know how newsreels of that caused pan-European fainting spells.

How dare the Collegian risk scandalizing our women-folk with such vulgar dictions! Tut, friends, to action! We shall take the next aero-zeppelin to Washington Town. President Taft will hear of this!

Now don’t get me wrong, the comment was not without its indefensible flaws.

It would be hard to argue that it wasn’t immature. Not to mention convoluted, ham-fisted, and, all issues of articulation aside, not the sort of thing that does wonders for your journalistic integrity.

Many have criticized that we caused a big stir without saying anything worthwhile. And they’re probably right. But the reasons behind the statement are anything but immature.

The editorial was not trying to blame the recent University of Florida Kerry/Taser incident on President Bush, as many have incorrectly inferred. It was more an exhibition of free speech than an effective commentary on the president.

It was responding to the UF incident by demonstrating the rights that are being redefined and moderated when a student, obnoxious though he may be, gets hogtied and electrocuted by eight police officers.

Base sloganeering, yes, but the statement was made to challenge the alarming amount of regulation being placed on what we can say, when we can say it, where we can say it.

Tuesday, our Editor in Chief J. David Mcswane will be defending his job.

If he loses it, he will expose two frauds: that the Collegian is a “learning” paper there to train students through their successes and mistakes, and, that the Collegian is truly student run, when at any point a governing entity can silence those found inappropriate. It would also reaffirm the web of restrictive policymaking that the editorial was decrying.

The first amendment protects that Florida student’s insufferable agitprop, as it does the Collegian’s crude, clumsy, but principled editorial.

Why that doesn’t seem to matter would be the $30,000 question.

Ryan Nowell is a junior English major. His column appears Monday in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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