On Tuesday, March 13, the Brown Daily Herald published an advertisement. Every paper does this on most pages of every issue. It wasn?t unique.
Advertisements take many different shapes and sizes. Sometimes they sell things, sometimes they invite and sometimes they take a position on a controversial issue.
This particular advertisement took a position on reparations for slavery and how the advertiser believes that they it is bad idea and racist too.
It was a common portrayal of a conservative viewpoint. Brown?s decision to print the advertisement was not irresponsible.
As a matter of fact, by presenting a controversial argument, the Herald gave the Brown community an opportunity to discuss an important issue.
It is too bad this discussion never had a chance to happen.
Later that day, a coalition of student groups stole and destroyed virtually the entire print run of the Herald, leaving behind fliers that accused the paper of insensitivity and demanded reparations for the ad.
The actions of the protesters at Brown are deplorable. By showing a blatant disregard for freedom of speech, property and common courtesy, the protesters have done far greater damage than any ad could ever do.
By attacking the paper rather than addressing the message, they not only did a great injustice to the paper, but they missed a golden opportunity to express the their opinions.
Instead, they resorted to the streets and wasted their time and the paper?s money trying to silence a dialogue on racism.
They answered an opinion with an attack on the author and the paper that published it.
An advertisement doesn?t reflect the viewpoint of the paper. It reflects the viewpoint of the person who paid for the ad.
Advertising is the truest form of free speech in a newspaper. Ads are published unedited and free of editorial commentary.
It is not a newspaper?s responsibility to say what people want to hear. It is a newspaper?s responsibility to give a voice to people?s opinions as long as an opinion is presented in a reasonable fashion ? whether presented in ad or editorial.
Would the Campus Times have run the ad? To that, I?m not sure.
As editor-in-chief, I would have put the question before the editorial staff. I can?t predict what our decision would have been.
However, I expect if we did choose to publish the ad, I would hope that the university community wouldn?t try to censor opinions they did not agree with.
Discussion solves more than destruction.