Pathetic

I rarely post here, but I thought that this story merited mention, especially from a college newspaper perspective. The top editors of the Daily Illini at the University of Illinois have been suspended and will likely be fired for publishing the Danish cartoons.

The editor in chief of a student-led newspaper serving the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has been suspended after printing cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad that, when published in Europe, enraged Muslims and led to violent protests in the Middle East and Asia.

Editor Acton Gorton and his opinions editor, Chuck Prochaska, were relieved of their duties at The Daily Illini on Tuesday while a task force investigates “the internal decision-making and communication” that led to the publishing of the cartoons, according to a statement by the newspaper’s publisher and general manager, Mary Cory…

Gorton’s decision, however, caused an uproar in the local Muslim community and rankled other Illini staff members after the paper was deluged with negative letters and e-mails…

Gorton himself said he received 300 e-mails. Two-thirds of the e-mails were supportive and a third were hateful, he said…

U. of I. Chancellor Richard Herman also wrote a letter to the newspaper saying he was saddened by Gorton’s decision.

What “saddens” me is that the chancellor of one of this country’s top public universities is so unwilling to stand up for the free speech rights of his students in the face of some negative emails and letters (does anyone really think that there were going to riots in Champaign?). I’m not at all surprised by this, but “saddened” nonetheless.

The paper already apologized on Monday (for what, printing actual news?) for publishing the cartoons. Great moment in journalism, guys. Way to stand on principle.