Freedom of speech is what makes America the land of the free and the home of the brave. Don’t like your governor? Complain all you want. Don’t like a piece of legislature? Petition. Don’t even like the lunch your mom packed you for school? Go ahead and say so (even though the government allows it, she might not be so happy). In the mighty USA, we’re encouraged to speak our mind.
But what happens when that law is violated? Recently in a school, the student newspaper put a ban on the word “Redskin”. The word was viewed as derogatory by the editors, who put into action the elimination of the word in their printing press. Fine. Makes sense, after all. There’s no need for that word in general, especially in school. Personally, I don’t believe that racial groups have any place in being mascots. There’s no such thing as the “Chicago Whites” or “New York Asians”. So why is putting Native Americans into a category normally filled with students dressed in bulky animal costumes on the sidelines of a football game okay? The fact that the term to describe “Native Americans” in this school is derogatory is just the cherry on top of a muddy, politically incorrect situation.
When this ban was put in place by editors trying to be morally upright, they get reprimanded. The principal forces them to lift the ban because it’s mandatory for every student in the school to produce one article for the newspaper at some point in their high school career and it isn’t fair to those who want to represent the school mascot in their story. The principal views the ban as violating the sacred freedom of speech right, while the editors view it as the opposite. They don’t want to be forced to say something they don’t want to. It’s seen as almost reverse censoring.
When discussing this in my journalism class, my peer, Erin Brush, brought up an interesting point. When we write sports stories, we say, “The Comets beat the Knights 1-0 today”. However, we could easily change that to, “Mason beat Kings 1-0 today”. So what’s the big deal? It only requires altering of a couple words. Being a part of a school newspaper, I can sympathize with the editors. Although I acknowledge where the principal is coming from, I think that a student newspaper should be left up to the students; it says so in the title. If the ones in charge decide that they want to be politically correct in school (which is usually a place VERY sensitive to being politically correct, which seems almost hypocritical), why can’t they?
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