By Morgan Levy ’19
Over 200 years ago, our Founding Fathers made freedom of the press the first
amendment in the bill of rights.
Over 200 years later, free press continues to be threatened in our society. On
Sept. 14, Wesleyan University sophomore Bryan Stascavage wrote an editorial in the
school newspaper criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement. While the writer knew
the topic was controversial at the time, he did not anticipate the responses that occurred
in the following weeks.
Students took to Yik Yak to post angry messages, and went around campus
stealing over 500 of the 1000 papers that were published. Following all of this, a
number students signed a petition to defund the campus newspaper for publishing the
I am not going to discuss whether I agree with the opinion’s stated in
Stascavage’s editorial, because that is not the point here. If we truly live in a world
where freedom of the press is valued, shouldn’t we be able to write exactly what we
think? In reality, this only holds true when what we have to say is politically correct
enough for the audience because we love to skirt around the truth today.
What if the editorial made valid points? What about the students who read the
article and empathized with it? What about the author himself, who just wanted a venue
to voice his opinions?
There are two sides to every story, and people have the right to criticize
movements such as Black Lives Matter that many people support. When we fail to look
beneath the surface, we only look at the flaws of other people’s arguments without truly
analyzing what they have to say.
Recently in my First Year Seminar, the class discussed classic Disney villains and
whether the villains were truly evil. Other than the fact that I don’t remember any
Disney stories, what struck me was how naive I was viewing these movies growing up.
When you are watching the “Lion King” you don’t really stop and consider whether Scar
was so bad after all. We allow ourselves to be brainwashed by what the filmmakers
want, just like how we can be brainwashed by what others want us to think.
We all tend to watch our world like Disney movies, being swayed by what other
people tell us and never stepping back to criticize. I can imagine walking around
Wesleyan the week this editorial was published, sitting in the cafeteria listening to
gossip about the super offensive article and watching people steal newspapers.
If you were walking around that campus and heard people criticizing the article,
you would probably go along with it. You would never consider that the student had
something they wanted to say, just like the people insulting the article, but instead begin
to warp your own perception.
It may not be the easy road, but it’s important to step away from the gossip and
find the fact in the situation. In a free press society, whether somebody has the right to
voice their opinion should not be such a grey issue.