Nov 072007
 
Authors: Kristopher Hite

The BSC can go ahead and pass any amendments to their bylaws they like. They can even have a clause that says “Thou shalt not take the name of the president in vain.”

However, the point remains that their authority is not above the Constitution.

This situation is really a microcosm of the greater problems in our supposed “democracy.”

I can’t blame the BSC for wanting to write unconstitutional bylaws when our own Congress has been guilty of this in recent years.

On Sept. 26th, a federal court struck down two provisions of the Patriot Act as unconstitutional (ironic that this was the same day as the BSC public opinion hearing).

In her decision, Federal Judge Ann Aiken outlines her reasons for concluding that two Patriot Act provisions violate Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Why should we let the foundation of our country (the Constitution) be eroded away by fear mongering politicians?

The BSC is not above the Constitution, but I do not see any injustice in them striking the words “or punish” from their bylaws.

This proposed amendment serves to accomplish as little as McSawane’s rebuke. It’s just a meaningless slap on the wrist to assuage those that were so offended by the Sept. 21 editorial.

However, I would like to address the points Professor James Landers brought up Tuesday in the Collegian.

Landers said “it became obvious during the public forum after the F-word editorial that references of news coverage were cited as support of the use of profanity and vulgarity when ‘essential to the readers’ understanding of the situation,’ while the distinct proscription of the same for opinion writing received less attention.”

Let’s have full disclosure here and read the entirety of clause 29 of the BSC bylaws to place these assertions in context.

“29. PROFANE, VULGAR WORDS, EXPLICIT SEXUAL LANGUAGE

Although the intended primary audience of the Collegian is adults, the newspaper is widely circulated on- and off-campus and is available to minors (as are Student Media television programs). Even though profane and vulgar words are part of everyday conversation, they are not to be used in news accounts or letters to the editor unless they are considered by the editor-in-chief to be essential to readers’ understanding of the situation. Use of words viewed as vulgar and profane also should not overshadow other, more important facts of the story. Profane and vulgar words are not acceptable for opinion writing. Though they may be vulgar or profane, individual words are not obscene. Explicit language – but not vulgar, street language – describing sexual activities and human body parts and functions should be used for accurate reporting of health stories and, in a limited way, for sexual crime stories.”

I understand Lander’s point that profane and vulgar words are “proscribed,” meaning denounced, and outside the protection of the law.

My counter argument is that the Collegian is supervised by the BSC, which exists as an extension of the governing body of a public institution.

Colorado State University is a public institution (a fact I am immensely proud of) and, as an employee of this public institution, it is Landers’ duty to uphold the Constitution whether it is “good for business” or not.

I understand that this rule does not apply to privately owned media outlets, but frankly, as a result of the skewed coverage of the “F Bush” editorial fallout, I conclude that privately owned media outlets are not to be trusted with the truth democracy depends on.

Kristopher Hite is a biochemistry Ph.D. student. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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