Why freedom of the press shouldn’t be a gray issue

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

editorial.

 

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.

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