Just because you’re offended…
…That doesn’t mean you can censor me.
Recently, a University of Central Oklahoma journalism student was nearly expelled for a simple blog post, much like the one I am writing now. I’m sure some people will disagree with my post today, but that doesn’t mean they can take away my right to publish. This is the 21st century, and the internet.
This student wrote a post titled “An Open Letter to Obnoxious Girls: Stupidity Isn’t Cute!” on her personal blog in early February. She described the behaviors of the “Obnoxious Girls,” but she didn’t reveal any names. So, is there any real harm in that?
Three girls in her class took offense to the blog post.
Let’s stop there for a moment. If you take offense to a personal blog post and your name isn’t mentioned anywhere, does that mean you have a guilty conscience? Aren’t we taught at a young age that it’s dangerous to assume things? I was always told that to assume makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’. Well, these three girls doing the assuming kind of sound like asses to me. Hopefully they don’t try to get me expelled.
Yep. The student that wrote the blog post was threatened with expulsion if she didn’t remove the post.
She also had to apologize to everyone in the class. A complaint was filed against her by her professor for disruption of class and intimidation.
Did I miss something here? There were no names in the blog post!
If you ask me, the only real case of intimidation occurred when the student’s professor and the chairwoman of UCO’s mass communications department told her she’d ruined her journalism career and threatened to expel her.
It’s just hard for me to wrap my head around this situation. I thought journalism in America was all about freedom of expression, protecting our rights as journalists or just as Americans and promoting free speech and less censorship. I hold very high the concepts of ethics and responsibility, but that doesn’t mean everyone else does.
To me, this is the essence of censorship. What this says to me is, “I don’t agree, I’m offended, so you should be punished.”
The fact that this happened right here in my home state of Oklahoma is even more disappointing. Where do we draw the line? It’s incredibly discouraging that a mass communications department at a university doesn’t have sense enough to handle such situations better.
Let’s step back again.
If the girls had been named in the post, I might almost be inclined to understand the claim of intimidation, or the supposedly offensive nature of the post, but I think even then that if it was a personal blog post, I’d support her right to publish it as long as she wasn’t threatening anyone.
Tasteless? Maybe. Does that mean she shouldn’t have the right to publish her opinions? Absolutely not.
I just don’t get it. Aren’t we stepping backward here?
Maybe you don’t agree with me. Guess what; that’s perfectly fine. Just don’t get the idea that you can keep me from publishing my blog posts simply because you disagree with me or find my content offensive.
I won’t go down without a fight.