CSU opinion results in backlash

A couple of weeks ago, I voiced my opinion over an editorial that ran in the Colorado State University Rocky Mountain Collegian. I printed this opinion in The McPherson (Kan.) Sentinel and received a letter from a member of that community.

To read the opinion that caused the letter, click here. The following is the letter submitted by the community member:

Dear Editor (Jim Misunas),

Mr. Vogts feels the editor of the Colorado State Collegian should be fired for using the “F” word in his editorial. Universities are supposed to be institutions where ideas and theories can be cussed and discussed in an open atmosphere and the participants are protected by the first amendment, the Constitution, and academic freedom. They are not areas where small town politics and rural mentality prevail. If that were the case, they would not allow “The Catcher in the Rye” to be read on campus. Maybe even “Huckleberry Finn” would have been banned, because Huck protected and did not turn in the runaway slave Jim, which was a serious crime. Yes, the CSU editor could have written a well researched opinion about the lad in Florida at John Kerry’s rally, that was tasered for exceeding his one minute time limit, instead of the “F” word. But the fact remains that first amendment rights trump bad taste. CSU is not on the “buckle” of the “Bible Belt”, so it would trump bad taste. Mr. McSwane, the editor, is a fiery energetic journalist. He won one of journalism’s highest awards, the Peabody Award, while still in high school. The army recruiters were helping students get fake highschool diplomas and helping them pass drug tests. He went undercover, pretending to be a druggie and a drop-out. His news story made national coverage. His mom passionately tried to dissuade him, saying he might get arrested. But his personal convictions and inclination to take risks, led him to follow his conscience. McSwane said about the University controversy, “he did it not to capture headlines, but to spark a discussion about free speech”. Remember, journalists are our first line of defense against not only those who would limit our speech, but also other things in our Bill of Rights. Free speech allows you to erect large sign on your house saying “Jesus Saves”, or “God is Dead”. Your neighbors may not ever speak to you, but the first amendment trumps any local laws prohibiting signs of free expression on your own property.

Gerry Bley

McPherson, Kansas

To me, this is kind of funny. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, and at least I know someone is reading my weekly column in The Sentinel.

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About toddvogts 830 Articles
Todd R. Vogts, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of media at Sterling College in Kansas. Previously, he taught yearbook, newspaper, newsmagazine, and online journalism in various Kansas high schools, and he ran a weekly newspaper in rural Kansas. He continues to freelance as a professional journalist from time to time. Also, Vogts is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), the Journalism Education Association (JEA), and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), among others. He earned his Master Journalism Educator (MJE) certification from JEA in 2022. When he’s not teaching or writing, he runs his mobile disk jockey service and takes part in other entrepreneurial ventures. He can be reached at twitter.com/toddvogts or via his website at www.toddvogts.com.

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