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Student Press, Free Speech, and Whiny Media Elites

Reading Salon.com News: Who’s afraid of the big bad Horowitz? brings back memories of, well, just a few weeks ago, actually. Since I have myself protested an advertisement in our campus newspaper, it strikes me that many of the people writing on this topic seem to have no idea of what the real issue is here (although those who note that David Horowitz is a self-aggrandizing pig making publicity for himself on the backs of young journalists, are not far off).

This is simply not a free press issue. Horowitz was not being censored by some evil cabal of thuggish p.c. mavens, and if the so-called Human Life Alliance’s pamphlet had not been distributed in The Plainsman, they would not have been censored either. Student newspapers are incapable of denying them a forum for their views, since David Horowitz and the HLA are rather rich national figures, and Horowitz is himself a columnist in Salon. The point of a campus newspaper, however, is not to give a voice to well-positioned outsiders who have enough money to buy their way in. The whole point is to give students an open forum.

This doesn’t mean that all political advertisements from outside sources should be banned, since I recognize that student newspapers do need to make money somehow. However, it is extremely hypocritical for Horowitz to pose as some kind of martyr to censorship. Particularly when he and his colleagues are doing it in the pages of a webzine which reaches literally millions more readers than campus newspapers could ever hope to reach.

If Horowitz and the HLA really want to make their voices heard, they ought to write a damn Letter to the Editor like everyone else, or else take their commercial advertisement where it belongs: a commercial newspaper.

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