Hi 66 / Lo 54
|Volume 68, Issue 1,
Matthew Dulin Geronimo Rodriguez Shaun Salnave Cara Sarelli
In what was probably provoked by a certain degree of wariness, a Boston College student newspaper altered an advertisement for the collegeis theater production of Good, a play about a financial professor drawn into the Nazi movement.
The ad displayed a swastika, which theater students in the play said "conveys the historical impact of the play."
In a letter to the editor of the paper, the cast and crew said "(The newspaper) has failed to acknowledge the gravity of this historical event by stripping the advertisement of its visual power."
At least one member of the theater program called the alterations an "arbitrary application of censorship."
And rightly so.
While the newspaperis editors did not feel comfortable printing a swastika in the their paper, they donit have the right to alter the statements being made by a paid advertiser. The paperis editor herself said, "we have no obligation to print every ad we receive." While thatis true, that doesnit mean a paper has the right to modify ads as it pleases.
To have a standard not to accept such materials needs to be decided on beforehand and discussed with the party making the ad purchase before the ad runs. If the theater organization had known the paper was against printing swastikas for any purpose, surely they wouldive gone with a different design.
As editors of our own publication, we know that advertisers -- as well as opinion writers -- can write some pretty raucous things that get their audiences fired up. We usually print it -- but not because we necessarily agree with whatis being said. We allow it because we agree with free speech. Period.
The Boston newspaperis move, while understandable, turned out to cast an unprofessional cloud over the paper. How can advertisers -- or guest columnists for that matter -- know for sure that their views wonit get distorted in some mysterious "editorial process"? Weire not here to modify peopleis points of view.
The swastika-wielding ad wasnit promoting Neo-Nazism. It wasnit calling
for world domination. It wasnit attacking Jews. It was attracting curious
eyes to a play that was meant to open eyes to the ideas and experiences
therein. The fact that the symbol carries such a negative weight and is
loaded with potential offense doesnit make it unusable or unsuitable.
The environment was at the center of this controversy. Rather than tackle the true source of the problem (the fact that Houston is a mecca for refineries), the TNRCC elected to solve our environmental woes by dropping the speed limit by 15 miles per hour. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
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