Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Even overkill calls this overkill

UL NAACP chapter: revoke Vermilion funding

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette Student Government Association, at its Feb.13 meeting, did not act on a request to pull funding away from The Vermilion because of the Jan. 18 conservative column about Martin Luther King Jr.

Darren Triplett, president of the UL Lafayette chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), expressed concern over the column written by John Hinson in a special report brought before the Senate.

He argued that students, who pay $2 per semester, totaling about $64,000 per year to support the paper, should not be forced to pay that fee if the paper is running material that is offensive to a large number of students.

No, no, no, no, no, NO!!

I agree that Hinson's MLK column was one of the worst The Vermilion has ever published (and yes, I'm counting all 99 of mine). And I agree that a college newspaper should not be a mouthpiece for racist views. But recommending that students no longer fund the paper because of one controversial column is ridiculous! It's pointless crusades like this that cheapen the good work of the NAACP and gives its opposition fodder for criticism.

I served as Hinson's diametric counterpart for a year and a half. He has a lot of issues, not the least of which are his racism, his subpar writing style and his use of questionable sources. While I would debate his suitability to write the column, I would never suggest that he be censored for his views or demand that the newspaper shut down because of it.

He also said the NAACP, along with other supporters, would be compiling a packet containing the article, past articles from Hinson, and similar quotes from white supremacist groups.

I hope they stop by here, because I've already done their homework.

“We also will be drafting a letter to go to the local businesses about them pulling funding away from the paper, at least in their advertisements, temporarily, as well as other student organizations,” Triplett said.

However misguided it might be to recommend withholding student funding for the newspaper, it's an even worse move to discourage other avenues of sponsorship. Such a move, at least in this case, is overkill of the worst kind. This goes beyond burning down the house to kill a few ants; it's strangling the homeowner as well.

“Every week I find something extremely offensive in The Vermilion, constantly,” Liberal Arts President Moriah Istre said in agreement with Triplett.

I know, I know...my bad! But I'm gone now.

Triplett suggested that students be allowed to vote on whether they wanted to support the paper. “We don’t feel our money should be used to bash us in the paper or to make those statements,” Triplett said.

I can understand how tempting it would be to allow students to vote on how their individual money is spent. But that isn't how the real world works. The fact is, students will do anything to lower their tuition. Ninety-nine percent of students would refuse to fund anything with which they weren't directly involved. But let's be real -- nothing can sustain itself that way. Did I really want to fund the Young Republicans, exclusive honor societies or any of the multitude of hyper-expensive religious organizations with my tuition? No. But I did without objection, because I knew that the people in those organizations were funding that which I cared about.

The real world is similar: my tax dollars go toward petrochemical tax breaks, bunker-buster missiles and corporate subsidies, whereas a conservative's tax dollars go toward, uh, petrochemical tax breaks, bunker-buster missiles and corporate subsidies. Okay, maybe that's not the best example...

In any event, how would a university go about stopping funding of anything that is controversial? I can't wait to see what that focus group would look like! Any word on if the list of offenses will include excessive sidewalk chalk, plasma TVs that blare only commercials, expensive mission trips or poor layout? How about misguided activism? Because that's the one thing that offends me most.

The NAACP should know as well as anyone that if you take away Hinson's rights to free speech, you also take away everyone else's.

17 comments:

Nick said...

First of all, I agree with Hinson that the national and much state leadership of the NAACP is racist and only cares about votes and fattening their wallets, though he kills his argument by promoting the NAAWP. I don't know about the UL NAACP, though I'm sure their leaders aren't able to make money off of inciting racism. However, that said, they are taking a stand. They have every right to pull their own donations from the Vermilion. Now, if they were to bring some kind of law suit against the university, Vermilion, or Hinson, I would disagree b/c Hinson has every right to say what he wants as long as he's not calling for violence against blacks.

Nick said...

And yeah, Moriah would find things offensive in the Vermilion, the liberal columns!! I remember her and her dad telling me at the football games they liked my views.

Nick said...

Another thing, I just read the op-ed by the Vermilion staff where they explained how Hinson has a right to express his opinions in the name of free speech. Yet, when I wrote an op-ed criticizing Bush and stated that he won't shut down illegal immigration b/c he was worried about losing Hispanic votes, the editors took that statement out. But they stand behind the right of Hinson to call MLK Day a joke. Go figure.

Flamingo Jones said...

I remember when I was in college, conservative students raised a big stink about part of their tuition going to fund the Gay Straight Alliance club. They were told that if they were offended by certain uses of their activity-routed tuition money, they could fill out a form, take it to the cashier and get a refund of that particular money. Most students didn't bother...it's hassle enough dealing with the cashier when you HAVE to, much less voluntarily. But a handful of students did fill out the form, deal with the Cashier's b.s. and they got a check for like $.47. But to them, it was worth it, they felt better and stopped complaining and left GSA alone. It didn't hurt GSA funding, and it didn't lead to an epidemic of students refusing to fund other activities as many had predicted. Students are, above all else, lazy.

Is there an avenue like that where individual students can get (a mostly symbolic) refund, as a compromise?

It may not be how the real world works, but in the real world, when a newspaper offends you, you CAN cancel your subscription. It doesn't hurt the newspaper much, but the individual stops feeling like they're contributing to something that they are opposed to.

I wouldn't want to see the newspaper lose funding at all, but after reading that column, I can sympathize with their outrage at having their tuition dollars used to fund something that's so hostile to them.

Ian McGibboney said...

Nick: I don't oppose the NAACP stance against Hinson; I think they're absolutely right in that regard. But I do oppose the way they want to handle it.

The Vermilion needs to take action against him. They have before, believe it or not: they didn't run his column one week because it was supposedly about the time he got mugged by a bunch of black guys, and that's all it was. He was written up for it and told to cite everything for then on out, hence all the parenthetical asides in his columns. He told me this. He also allegedly threatened the staff after being told his column wouldn't run that week. That, combined with his recent behavior, is solid grounds for firing. That wouldn't violate his freedom of speech (he could still write letters), but it would restore the professional integrity of the newspaper and end the calls to scrap the entire paper.

Personally, I thought the Vermilion editorial was weak. I didn't necessarily disagree with it, but neither was I impressed by its conviction. I agree that they should pull potentially libelous statements from their pages; they've done it to me too, Nick, and I usually agreed when they explained it to me. But they aren't, and that's why they have the NAACP trying to do it for them.

Abour Moriah: yeah, she told me all the time how much she hated my writing.

Flamingo: If we had a refund system like that, it would be on the front page of the paper every week, in its own sidebar. My problem with selective tuition is that the slippery slope never stops. Again, the Verm just needs to can this guy.

Flamingo Jones said...

Agreed, they should fire him. What's the liklihood of that happening though?

Ian McGibboney said...

After this incident, fairly high, I would hope. This is a major wake-up call.

Flamingo Jones said...

I really hope so. It doesn't look very good for the school or the paper. And the great part is, the publicity is probably exactly what Hinson wanted in the first place. The paper fires him, Fox News hires him within the year, I'm sure.

Nick said...

John Hinson adds balance, though, and therefore if the Vermilion is to fire Hinson then Chris Williams has to be kicked off the Lafayette Government Council. That way, Lafayette can get two race baiting idiots removed from its media. Everybody wins!!

I wonder if I could convince the Verm. to let me fill in for Hinson for the rest of the semester....

Ian McGibboney said...

Nick, of course they'd replace him. But they should start fresh. Right now they have a libertarian and a paleocon; not sure if that's balance, but on the other hand I agreed with some of what Hinson said this week and disagreed with parts of Rachel Worthy's column. So I'm not sure what's going on.

So I agree that there should be a reunion between you and I on that page. There's a good dichotomy between us: you're right and I'm correct :)

Nick said...

Worthy is much to the left of a libertarian though. I would imagine she is for bigger taxation of business and would be against shutting off illegal immigration.

Mr. Hand said...

If it's on Wiki, it has to be true.

Jester said...

Ian, I must say I'm surprised that you didn't cry for censorship even once when faced with the paper's conservative adversity, which is the typical leftist response. Your tolerance and objectivity are to be commended. Bravo!

Anonymous said...

I feel like my quote was taken out of context during that particular meeting. I was actually opposed to the idea of taking away any funding from the Vermilion despite the fact that I have often found offensive comments, articles, and jokes. Just because I disagree with certain means of expression does not mean that others should not exercise their freedom of speech. Before attaching my name to this website, why not consult me first, Ian? You should know even better than me how little one can trust what is printed in a newspaper.~Moriah Istre, SGA President, College of Liberal Arts

Ian McGibboney said...

Moriah, I didn't get the impression that you wanted to cut the funding; indeed, you clearly meant the opposite. I reproduced your quote here because I really liked it (and even agree with it most of the time).

As for the Verm taking it out of context, that's probably true. I can't deny that. If that's your concern, then at least you are able to come here and clarify yourself. I'm told often by people who find this site that they were misquoted in articles I cite. It's sad, really, and one of the reasons I like the Internet so much.

But again, I got what you were saying and I think most people did too.

Anonymous said...

Ian,

I'm glad that you were able to see what I was trying to say in the quote printed in the verm. We're all good. :)

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I'm not a usual blogger, so I didn't feel like logging in and all that. The previous quote was from Moriah.