Sunday, September 30, 2007

College Students Fight for Their Right to Say "F**k Bush"

Posted by Alex Jung at 2:00 PM on September 25, 2007.

Alex Jung: Angry students and faculty call for the firing of a college newspaper editor at their own peril.
College Students Fight For Their Right to Say

The Sept. 21 editorial of The Rocky Mountain Collegian was a taunt: TASER THIS...FUCK BUSH. Students groups like the College Republicans and faculty have in fact, obliged -- insofar as they are legally able -- to take down the students responsible.

Or at least the editor in chief, J. David McSwane.

Newspaper editors may be the face of the publication, but the publication is not its editor. The editorial board's decision to run the statement was a 4-3 split, so it's clear that the editor is not the only one who should technically be held accountable. But this isn't really about "journalistic integrity" as the CSU College Republicans would spin it. It is about creating taboo lines around free expression, especially ones that deviate from tamer, 'legitimate' forms of discourse.

The statement itself was a four-word punchline that exercised the right to express a sentiment that many U.S. youth may be feeling. Fuck Bush and Buck Fush stickers and statements are common. Coupled with bizarre tasering incidents at University of Florida, and before that, the brutal tasering of Mostafa Tabatabainejad, a UCLA student in a library, excessive, punitive force seems to be the guard waiting to pounce the moment someone says something out of line.

Whether one agrees with the form or content of the editorial misses the point. Did the UF student Andrew Meyer ramble on too long? Was he an aggressive questioner? All of that is debatable, but trying to silence him with force, bordered on the incredulous. The editorial, was, an exercise of the right to express an opinion, in a completely brazen way, without being silenced.

Wednesday night, a 10-person, faculty-student committee will determine McSwane's fate. If they actually bow down to a puritanical sense of propriety, well, then, fuck 'em.


Tagged as: free speech, taser

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