A response to Greg Lukianoff on campus censorship
By Jean Womack
"No, I am not going to give you a blow job," the student journalist told her inquisitors.
Remarks about sex are the most questionable form of campus freedom of speech. Racial and religious prejudice make sex objects out of many people.
Because of President Clinton's extramarital affair, middle school students want to talk about oral sex. The vice principal tells the substitute not to talk to the kids about sex, drugs or weapons. She's not trained for that. They don't have time for that, and math and English as well. She can review the school rules with them, however. The kids want to know that she is against what they are also against.
"Mrs. Womack, don't you think that oral sex is disgusting?" Surprised and caught off guard by the middle-schooler's question, I had to catch my breath to think of what to say. So I just agreed with him.
There are many other more serious concerns about freedom of speech on a college campus newspaper. Did the reporter understand what was said? Did the reporter write it down accurately? Does the reporter understand that his or her job is not gathering evidence to have someone convicted in a court of law? It's informing the public who have a right to know what is going on in a democracy.
Street people said they did not warn against marijuana smoking, anal sex, or stolen copper because the warning was the first step towards arresting a person whom they did not want to be arrested.
One college journalism professor says we report what we understand to be true at that particular moment. Journalists cannot protect themselves against street theatre or identity theft. A group called Increase the Peace acts out a scene of violence and then brings in the press to take a picture of it. This probably happened in the murder of Oscar Grant by an Oakland BART officer. That event was caught on cell phone cameras. Those observers were probably brought there to witness an arrest as part of a training exercise.
A guess: if the press was not present, the event would not have occurred. The aftermath was real. Former Chief Garfield said, "We will always respond as if it is real."
Mistakes, lies and half-truths are spread under the banner of freedom of speech and brought to public scrutiny with a less than perfect spotlight called a newspaper. Are the accusations allowed to stand undefended so that street justice is inflicted instead of real justice being served? The U.S. constitution demands confrontation by one's accuser.
A responsible journalist will not publish propaganda giving free publicity to criminal activity. Timothy Leary got his 15 minutes of fame in Life magazine in 1963. We don't need to do that "research" again. Greg Lukianoff is the only one who has complained about censorship so far.