Profane College Newspaper Hides Behind Free Speech


By: Warner Todd Huston

ere we go again with a so-called freedom of speech claim of a bunch of low-class, petulant children playing at being real “journalists” in one of our state funded Universities. This time it’s the little fellas at The Rocky Mountain Collegian, the school paper of Colorado State University, who are hiding behind a real right and using it as cover to realize their 15 minutes of fame. These anti-intellectual, collegians are, of course, pretending to be shocked that anyone would question their “right” to print an expletive in bold headlines in their paper and are claiming that they didn’t mean to “upset” anyone. I have another four-letter word that describes this absurd claim: LIES.

Proving that our schools seem to be more interested in creating controversy, teaching anti-American ideas, and indulging in childish behavior, this supposed student newspaper staff seemed to imagine that journalism should reflect some trash mouthed, morning disc jockey’s schtick instead of serious, reasoned debate. Sadly, it is obvious that these kiddies were left to their own devices in writing and preparing their paper. It seems woefully clear that there was no faculty supervision of these anarchist wannabes. So, not only are we left wondering why our college kids so anti-intellectual but we have to wonder why no one is supervising their misguided attempts at writing. Do these school administrators get a salary to TEACH or do they not?

Remembering that Colorado is the home of Ward Churchill, though, perhaps CSU’s professors’ teaching worked only too well for these half-informed, infant newspapermen?

Denver TV Channel 7 gives us an understated headline for their report, Profane Language Puts Student Editor’s Job On Line, Editorial Raises Eyebrows, Controversy At CSU, to alert us to the story.

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — A four word editorial with a four letter word in it is sparking a spirited discussion on free speech at Colorado State University.

The Rocky Mountain Collegian published an editorial on page 4 of the paper Friday which read “Taser this … F*** Bush.”

Naturally, they are hiding behind their misconstruction of the principle of free speech to excuse their idiocy.

In a letter to the University Community and Collegian readers, McSwane wrote, “While the editorial board feels strongly with regard to First Amendment issues, we have found the unintended consequences of such a bold statement to be extremely disheartening.”

“I plan to be honest,” he said. “Our intentions weren’t ‘Hey, let’s upset the community.’ It was, ‘Let’s get college students to talk about freedom of speech.’”

Mr. McSwane is obviously being disingenuous… no I should speak plainly. Mr. McSwane is a liar. How can there be much doubt that he knew full well what would happen when a reaction of outrage over his calumny occurs and that he had, indeed, counted on it in order to get noticed? He wanted his name on TV and he got it. After all, of the decision for going forward with this nonsense, editor David McSwane said, “We felt it illustrated our point about freedom of speech.” Obviously it was thought out in advance and they counted on this reaction.

But here is the thing that is most vexing from these sorts of actions and that is the faux outrage that perpetrators like McSwane counter with when confronted with their effrontery.

He pretends to be shocked that anyone would be mad at him. He claims to be amazed that his paper was pulled from the shelves and that advertisers were pulling their ads. Gosh, why would people be so mad?

And here is the point where his sort of fool doesn’t understand reality, much less propriety. He and his ilk imagine that they might write outrageous, taboo breaking, attention getting, vulgar works to no adverse reactions. Yet, he and his low-end compatriots imagine it will get their blather the attention they so crave. He wants to change the world with his obscenities. He imagines his words are somehow important. He feels he is the arbiter of what is good and should be listened to. And he feels that he has the right to do something that causes people to advocate for change.

All right. Fair enough. Let’s allow him his self-aggrandizing assumptions. He is right to want to use his words to change the world, to effect those changes he imagines are good and just. Certainly we all want to be listened to.

And yet, as he is puffing himself up as the harbinger of truth, he DENIES the very same right to all who react to his foolhardiness! He acts as if they should not be allowed to advocate for change… by getting rid of him. He acts as if it just isn’t right that people try to use their own words to counteract his efforts.

With his arrogance, in his own mind, he denies the very rights for others that he claims for himself.

So, I say to the advertisers and patrons of The Rocky Mountain Collegian that they have every right to stop supporting this rag and they should surge forward with their own plans to change the world of one Mr. David McSwane.

Free speech has consequences, Mr. McSwane. If you don’t want to face up to the consequences of yours, then shut up. If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the opinion pages.

But let’s focus on the aspect here that is saddest of all. For ages writers have strived to become known for their great works. They’ve shed blood and tears compiling great tomes filled with words. They’ve spent untold hours toiling over their craft, eager to enrich the world with their rhetoric, slaving away to get the words just right. Shakespeare strove to make his words sing, Joyce meant for density, but all try for complexity and meaning.

Mr. McSwane is right about one thing in the end. He is quoted as saying, “I think we could write 250 words and ramble on and I don’t think anyone would pay attention.” He is right that no one would have noticed his lame attempts at commentary without the obscenity. But, as it turns out, his obscenity doesn’t lead us to investigate the “250 words” that followed his cheap headline, still. His headline is all that we will ever see of his folly.

So, after all is said and done, we still get no enlightenment from McSwane’s proffering. We get no real debate. We get controversy that leads to no end. We get empty bombast, instead of clarity.

Yes, many writers have spent their lives toiling behind the pen all with the faint hope that man’s lot might somehow be improved. McSwane has failed not only to achieve any positive end, but he has made a mockery of the work of every writer throughout the ages. And he has revealed just another university failing our country.

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