To the Editor:
Unfortunately, it has not taken long for the new Senior Vice President’s office to cover itself with shame. The administration’s threat to cancel funding for The Mirror is so many times more disgraceful than the original column that prompted the threat.
Must we all be reminded of the position, that I don’t agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it. This threat by the administration is nothing more then a cheap attempt to take the independence away from The Mirror and to create a paper that would have the same journalistic integrity as Pravda.
There is just so much [that is] problematic about the administration’s threat. Firstly, no fair reading of any codes or regulations the university has could be read to conclude that the column or anything else that has appeared in The Mirror rises to the level a justified judicial complaint. The argument that some people were offended, insulted or even outraged by the column should have no dispositive meaning. Remember what Justice Brandeis argued in his dissenting opinion in Gitlow v New York, “Every idea is an incitement”. Words are intended to have meaning and to cause people to react, which includes being deeply offended.
Another reason that this threat has no rational basis is that it attempts to apply a code of behavior intended to apply to students at the university to an entity, The Mirror itself, which is independent. This is not the first time the university has acted to suppress legitimate speech and tried to justify its actions with shallow and disingenuous reasons. Several years ago the president cancelled a speaker who was to speak on same sex marriage. Then, as now, the reasons given just defy credibility.
This column and any very controversial statement in The Mirror provide the campus with wonderful teaching opportunities to debate the column, to protest the column, to point out the potential harm of such sexist writings, all of which are positive outcomes.
To attempt to use the heavy hand of the administration to effectively censor and silence controversial speech is by using in this case its power of the purse is the worst possible message we can send to our students.
The Mirror is a student newspaper. Students are here to learn. We learn by making mistakes, mistakes should not be punished by, in effect, banishment.
I hope every member of our community that respects free speech, intellectual inquiry and risk taking will join me in saying no to this despicable act our administration is threatening.
Associate Professor and Chair Politics Department