My recent post about the display of the 10 Commandments in a District Courthouse was received with great support. (See Thou Shalt Display … ) My good friend Marc Randazza had the wonderful opportunity to appear on Lisa Macci’s syndicated legal talk show to address this issue. Give it a listen HERE!!
Church and State … a follow up …
What this newspaper editor is most guilty of is lack of good taste. The fact that the editor chose to use profanity to express his opinions causes the reader to focus on the profanity vs. the opinion itself, and thereby impacts his journalistic integrity and that of the publication. The argument for free speech is not the real issue here. It would not matter if the subject of the newspaper editor’s rant was George Bush or the Bugs Bunny. He simply failed to articulate his thoughts in a non-offensive and meaningful fashion.
The editor’s exercise of his free speech rights has reportedly harmed the newspaper’s relationship with its sponsors, and may have the effect of casting the newspaper and entire newspaper staff in a negative light. I believe in free speech, but I also believe in responsible journalism. With rights comes responsibility and Editor J. David McSwane failed to live up to his responsibility as the leader of the newspaper staff.
I agree with what Jane Smith states, that this was a matter of opinion verses profanity. While I do think J.David McSwane has the right to criticize his government and its leaders, he also could have chosen a different word in which to express that criticism. following the story, I think that McSwane should be reprimanded for his lack in judgment, but should not be fired for it. Many other publications I’m sure have come under scrutiny before for a lack of judgment and were only reprimanded. Now if this trend keeps going, then more drastic measures should be taken, but for one slip of the tongue, I think McSwane should be given a second chance.
I believe these comments are actually meant to be on the “Free Speech or an Overstep of Authority” post, but since they are here, I’ll stay attached to this thread. The Westword article http://www.westword.com/2007-10-04/news/buck-fush/ sheds a lot of light on this story. It’s tempting to dismiss the choice of publishing a crass two word editorial as a “fail[ure] to articulate” or a “slip of the tongue” but I believe it was neither. There are no shortage of lengthy, articulate and substantive editorials criticizing the Bush administration out there. But truth is none of them have spurred as much discussion as McSwane’s decision to publish his two word editorial. One can question the wisdom or appropriateness of it, but looking at his credentials and journalistic history, one can’t reasonably expect he was thoughtless or careless about his choice of expression. Although judging the level of thought behind a two word dismissive is murky, it’s clear that it has generated much talk and, one can only hope, some thought.