Last month, a California university’s student-run newspaper published an op-ed about homosexuality. Two days later, in a move that should dismay all free speech lovers, the newspaper’s editor had penned a lengthy apology for letting the article run.
When Brandon Bartlett — a philosophy student at Cal Poly Sal Luis Obispo — authored an opinion piece for Mustang News, he simply wanted to make students think. After all, his concluding sentence proclaimed the agreeable entreaty: “Debate on, my friends!” But the subject he addressed was an increasingly undebatable one: homosexuality.
In “Return to Rationality: Homosexuality and the Slippery Slope,” Bartlett did not proffer his personal opinion on homosexual behavior. Rather, he politely and cogently questioned the logical rationale behind its societal acceptance.
Nevertheless, the backlash was immediate and intense. Impelled to address the controversy, Editor-in-Chief Celina Oseguera profusely apologized for accepting the piece in a lengthy letter to the student body.
“Everyone has an opinion,” she began. “Though opinions can fuel debate and conversation, they can hurt people as well.”
“To ensure this sort of harm does not occur again,” she stressed, “we will add one more step to the writing and editing process for opinion pieces or articles that involve sensitive topics.”
That, she wrote, would entail “speaking to groups or people whom an opinion piece can potentially affect.”
“We encourage any group on campus who feels they can teach us to be more inclusive and informative in our writing on these sensitive topics to please contact me,” she continued. “…We are open to ideas such as diversity workshops for reporters or a session on how to sensitively write about LGBTQIA issues.”
Although the editorial staff will not unpublish Bartlett’s op-ed, an editor’s note above it now reads: “Mustang News has issued an apology for this opinion piece. Click here to read it.”
The note might as well state: “We apologize for the author’s opinion” or “We apologize for the offense of logic.”
Although Bartlett’s piece was far from condemning, the question remains: must op-eds too conform to the strict political correctness now smothering so many college campuses?
Sounds a bit Orwellian to me.