Re: Stetson University

Over on Free Dartmouth (from what?), Dan Pollock writes:

I’m sure Emmett will want to debate me about the constitutionality of this decision:

Stetson University announced it was suspending publication of its student newspaper and fired the editorial staff because of an April Fools’ Day issue that included profanity, racist jokes and a sex column advocating rape and domestic violence.

Well Dan, I don’t know if you’re arguing that it was constitutional or unconstitutional. I argue neither: Stetson is a private institution. The First Amendment is irrelevant.

That said, I think it’s outrageous. You seem to equivocate on it:

On the one hand, you have a newspaper that clearly crossed the line, even for a joke issue (some of you may remember when the Jacko got in trouble for similar racist “humor”). But on the other hand, the school’s conservative Baptist history makes this sentence somewhat troubling:

“The newspaper had been under pressure from administrators to tone down the content of recent editions.”

What exactly was the “content” of recent editions? And did administrators jump on this event as an excuse to get rid of a newspaper that was a thorn in their side?

This is an absurd statement. You say “on the one hand, you have a newspaper that clearly crossed the line.” How can you say that? You ask what the content was, implying of course that you don’t know what the paper said; how, then, can you be so sure that it “clearly crossed the line”?

But this is peripheral; the fact that there’s a content-based line to cross at all is an outrage that you fail to realize. Satire and parody are, and should be, some of the most protected expression there is. If the humor is interpreted to be offensive or racist, that’s just tough — it’s the price of living in a free society.

But then we get the good ol’ Dan Pollock double standard. After stating that they “clearly crossed the line,” you say that you’re troubled by the school’s Baptist conservative history being the impetus for censorship. In other words, you can understand why they would censor if it were motivated by goo-goo concern for other’s “feelings” when it comes to potentially racist speech, but you are troubled by that very same censorship if it were motivated by conservative Baptist principles.

That’s a double standard, Dan. Fess up and plead for mercy!