Paper creates self-censoring policy after conservative op-ed
A conservative journalist was thrown under the bus by his editors for writing an op-ed critical of some arguments commonly used to defend gay marriage.
In his editorial, titled “Homosexuality and the slippery slope,” California Polytechnic Institute (Cal Poly) student Brandon Bartlett merely commented “on the arguments usually used in favor of homosexuality,” even clarifying that he would not be defending his opinions “on whether homosexuality is right or wrong, [or] should be legal or not.”
“If I succeed in exposing a flaw in those arguments, I will merely be demonstrating that arguments in favor must be formulated differently and not that all arguments in favor are inherently flawed,” he wrote, offering additional clarification to the intended purpose of the op-ed.
But his opinions were summarily condemned by the student-body as social media erupted with accusations of “homophobia” and “hate speech,” with one of his peers saying “it is absolutely appalling to read this.”
“Homophobia isn’t and shouldn’t be protected speech, it’s hate speech,” another added in a review of the campus newspaper Mustang News, which quickly received 134 1-star reviews on Facebook.
“This is trash. Please take this violent piece of garbage down,” another student commented. “You don’t see the New York Times publishing literal pieces of shit like this one; only places like Fox News and Bill O'Reilly.”
As a result of the unrelenting student backlash, the editor-in-chief of Mustang News, Celina Oseguera, issued a public apology for Bartlett’s op-ed, saying his writing “did more harm than start conversation.”
“Publishing this opinion piece has caused this campus and the marginalized groups in it a lot of pain and we are deeply sorry,” she wrote. “We as a staff now realize how naive we can be when addressing issues that affect groups of people with whom we don’t share the same experiences. That was ignorant on our part and we apologize.”
Taking it one step further, though, Oseguera promised to institute an editorial policy in which all “opinion pieces or articles that involve sensitive topics” will first be reviewed by “groups or people whom an opinion piece [could] potentially affect.”
“We did not reach out to any individuals that are part of or connected to the LGBTQIA community to read ‘Homosexuality and the slippery slope’ and give us feedback before we published, and for that I also apologize,” Oseguera continued in one of four apologies, noting that as part of the new policy she will reach out to “different communities on campus” in “order to receive feedback on opinion pieces that may affect them.”
Oseguera also invited any “group on campus feels they can teach” her staff to be “more inclusive and informative in [their] writing on these sensitive topic” to reach out to her at her personal email, asking them to pitch her their ideas for how they “would like to make this happen,” evening opening herself up to the “ideas such as diversity workshops for reporters or a session on how to sensitively write about LGBTQIA issues.”
Bartlett, though, fears the new policy will simply result in his censorship, telling Campus Reform that he “cannot help but conclude that [his] every word will go through a special scrutiny that, for instance, will be spared for the ‘feminist columnist’ who is also on staff.”
“At best, this will add another layer to the ‘liberal bubble’ that envelops nearly all college students, and will likely also lessen my (and all non-conforming authors in the future) ability to speak honestly and directly about the subjects that seem of greatest importance,” Bartlett remarked. “It is for these reason that I find the action of the editorial staff both cowardly and deeply immoral.”
Campus Reform reached out to Oseguera for additional elaboration on her new policy, but did not receive a response in time for publication.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AGockowski