The role of the newspaper, in any community, is to offer a variety of articles on a diverse array of topics. Newspapers provide discussion on news, an assortment of features and sports coverage as well as a space for opinions and entertainment.
Last week’s “He Said, She Said” column provoked some strong negative reactions from students due to the content of the column. While many were respectful and thoughtful, there were those that were, quite frankly, uncalled for. Individuals should be free to have their opinions and to express them, but the manner in which they do so can often hinder rather than aid public discourse. Criticism is welcome, but it is best achieved by measured means rather than vandalism and threats.
Some have made the claim that the content of the column is libelous. Certain opinions are considered protected when the context of the published piece makes it clear that the statements made in it are not meant to be taken literally; thus, published content which falls under this category is not considered defamatory.
Columns, by definition, explicitly feature the personal opinions of the authors who pen them – not those of the entire staff of a publication. Not everyone is going to agree with the views articulated in any column, or any opinion piece for that matter, but satirical commentary does have a place in society. The “He Said, She Said” column is meant to be humorous. Anyone who understands the context of the column knows that the content is not meant to be taken seriously.
While we received several negative comments from those who were offended, we also garnered many positive reviews from those who found the column humorous. We can certainly understand why a subset of the campus population did not find the column humorous and rather harsh, but sometimes, even if the satire falls flat or stings, there is merit in not taking yourself so seriously.
Some of the language in the column was on the extreme end, of course, but anyone who has read the “He Said, She Said” column in the past knows that it ventures far into the territory of the absurd and regularly relies on hyperbole. The intent of the column is to proffer the most ridiculous and inane “advice” possible.
In the past, it has suggested throwing your roommate’s belongings in a kiddy pool filled with milk as revenge, likened the Vice President of ExxonMobil to Galactus, The World Devourer and recommended selling heroin to rake in some extra cash. Considering some of the previous suggestions made in the column, one would certainly hope that nothing published in that column is interpreted literally.
Context is everything. This column is no hard-hitting, investigative journalism piece, and we would not want anyone to believe so.
As for those who choose to dismiss the newspaper at the first moment at which they see something with which they disagree: consider the much more prominently placed article on the front page last week, “Bidding for Letters,” about an incredibly successful sorority recruitment. In this very issue, we have an article detailing Alpha Xi Delta’s philanthropy efforts in addition to a photo spread of Greek Iron Chef that took place last week. If you flip through any of our recent issues, you will see a number of articles highlighting the positive contributions Greeks have made in the community.
Yes, 30-40% of this campus is Greek. Conversely, we must recognize that means 60-70% is not. Allowing only positive portrayals of issues yet disallowing other viewpoints is nothing short of censorship. Furthermore, it compromises the ability of The Towers to provide multiple perspectives for current events and issues.
Like much else in life, a newspaper needs a balance of positive and negative. It was not the intent of The Towers to aggravate or anger anyone, but it is also not our role to show only the sunny side of things.
A free press is an integral part of any structured social environment, including universities. Public discourse, however, is just as important. If you have an issue with any content in The Towers, we encourage you to write to us. We welcome any letters and feedback from all members of the community.