If I haven’t told you already, I’m a big supporter of the TomGeeks website. I even participate on their boards every now and then.
Recently, one of the artists who posts there wrote about how her comic in the college newspaper poked fun at a class that was notoriously known to be boring and easy to fall asleep in. However, the professors and a few fan students protested loudly their disapproval to the Dean, who is now forcing the newspaper to run an apology comic. I’m finding this is becoming more common at colleges lately, which is alarming.
There’s so much wrong with that. Here’s two immediate things:
1. It sets an unfair precident that the administration can oppress the opinion of students and use the newspaper as their own propaganda tool.
2. This is not ethical. It teaches something that regular papers do not do – force people to rescind their freedom of speech after an unpopular opinion piece.
In real life, the paper would advise any offended parties complaining about an op-ed comic that their best recourse would be to write into the Opinion section of the paper. The Editorials, or whatever the paper likes to call their section. Then their opinion is voiced and their points made. If they did it like the college did it, there would be no political comics or op-ed articles in any newspaper anywhere ever.
By oppressing the opinion of comic artists in the school paper, they are now teaching something that is not realistic or even ethical. Which means the school newspaper is no longer a valid teaching tool, because it teaches the wrong lesson. So the faculty and the adminstration have just contradicted themselves and proved their hypocracy. They are an educational facility, so they should teach realistic values and ideas. That’s what the students pay for.
And it’s a comic for Pete’s sake. How the Hell is a comic seen as a potential threat to class?
I had this happen to me in college. I came into the Wayne Stater newspaper where the previous Arts and Entertainment Editor had set a stupid precident of always retracting opinion/review articles when they offended people. NOTE: I said most of the articles were opinions or reviews. If you can’t trust your Arts and Entertainmetn section to tell you how bad a performance/movie/album really was or is (and then publish any counter-opinions that spring from it), then you would not read it at all. So I went head-to-head with the Dean of Students when I broke the precident and won. Because a Provost that I wrote to understood my position and agreed that the freedom of speech was being oppressed.
My particular moment of “offense” was when I wrote a critical opinion article on a piece of art that was on the campus. It was done by an outside independent contractor (not faculty, not a student, nor an alumni) that resembled a certain part of the body. The artist in question was a friend of the Dean’s, so he wanted an immediate apology and retraction of my piece. He was furious when I told him no, and demanded my release from the paper. I sent him and the Provost a long dissertation on why retracting my article and firing me was a bad idea.
Note that I’m not saying that hurtful or intentionally false pieces are protected. If you publish what you think is the truth with well constructed arguments in an opinion piece without slandering the subject, you are in the right.