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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Don’t Call Me, Alma Mater

Posted by on March 15 at 15:56 PM

To the alumni association fundraisers from the University of Illinois who call me twice a year to see if I might want to write a check: Don’t bother calling now, dickwads, because I am never sending a check to the U of Inot after this bullshit.

An editor who chose to publish caricatures of Prophet Mohammed in the University of Illinois’ student-run newspaper last month has been fired, the paper’s publisher announced Tuesday. Acton H. Gorton was suspended, with pay, from The Daily Illini days after the Feb. 9 publication of the cartoons, which sparked Muslim protests around the world after they first appeared in a Danish newspaper….

The Illini Media Co. board of directors, which comprises students and faculty, voted unanimously to fire the editor after a review “found that Gorton violated Daily Illini policies about thoughtful discussion of and preparation for the publication of inflammatory material,” according to a statement.

Gorton has said he sought out advice from The Daily Illini’s former editor-in-chief and others before deciding to run the cartoons. He has said that accusations he tried to hide his decision were wrong.

On Tuesday, he called his firing a blow against free speech on college campuses….

The paper’s opinions page editor, Chuck Prochaska, also was suspended for his role in publishing the cartoons. He declined to be reinstated, the board said.

Prochaska said he and Gorton moved quickly to publish the cartoons because they were newsworthy.

“We had a news story on our hands, with violence erupting about imagery, but you can’t show it because of a taboo, because of a taboo that’s not a Western taboo but a Muslim taboo?” he said. “That’s a blow to journalism.”

The very first op-ed I ever wrote appeared in the Daily Illini. It was about the gaysit was proand it pissed people off. At the time you could even call it “inflammatory material.” Newspapers publish inflammatory material all the time. Gorton should be reinstated and the Daily Illini’s board should be slapped, then fired, then slapped again.

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Just wondering, how does the editor of a student-run newspaper manage to get suspended WITH PAY? I assume that most college newspaper editors are lucky to get course credits for their work, much less draw a professional salary.

I was editor of the paper at my small liberal arts Catholic college, and I received full tuition as pay during my tenure. (Plus I got the editorship after publishing my very first op/ed piece calling for the formation of a gay/lez student union)

During my reign I put out the customary "April Fools" edition with some material that made power angry. One of the stories was an "ad" for the annual Basilian luau with the tag line "Alter boys get in free." That was considered inflammatory.

The president of the university told me he thought the issue "was crap," but I didn't get fired, or even threatened.

Altar. Crap.

I've never heard of a school that dosn't offer its paper's editor money.

Also, this is bull shit. U of I, you disappoint us all.

“you can’t show it because of a taboo, because of a taboo that’s not a Western taboo but a Muslim taboo?” he said. “That’s a blow to journalism.”

What the fuck is with that quote? Are only white Judeo-Christians still considered "Western"? We should round up that stupid Jew and stick him in an oven. Oh wait, did I just break a "Western" taboo? There are far more Muslims than Jews in Western society, so I guess he meant "colored" taboo. I fixed your quote:

"you can’t show it because of a taboo, because of a taboo that’s not a [pure white] taboo but a [dirty colored] taboo?” he said. “That’s a blow to [racism].”

Jamie, it's about valuing all taboos equally, black taboos, white taboos, Judeo-Christian taboos, and Muslim taboos. They should all be committable. The Muslim taboo should not be valued higher than the western taboo. The paper should be allowed to offend Muslims, as it is allowed to offend Christians, as it is allowed to offend Jews. Otherwise it is prejudicial.

I am now totally disappointed. Dan wrote in a college newspaper? Here I was thinking that he came straight from working in a video rental place offering very cogent, snappy advice to a customer who just happened to need a sex advice columnist. Shit. Next you're going to tell me that he got his MBA at Northwestern....or an MFA from NYU.

Going back to my corner now.

When did you graduate? I graduated from U of I in 85, so I was probably long gone before you got there. Did they still have the "Gay Illini"? I remember "if you're gay wear blue jeans day" -- never saw so many dressed up frat boys.

I worked at the DI for all four years of my time at UIUC -- well after Dan or Angel were there. Probably spent more time in that office than in classes, although I was never of much importance.

What makes the DI different from other "student newspapers" is that it has absolutely zero connection with the University. It's run by an organization called "Illini Media Company." IMC pays a coulple of grown-ups (barely) to provide some continuity from year to year, but day-to-day everything is student-run, and when I was there the staff was all paid. The University can't fire him or anyone else there, as much as they'd like to do it.

Having once been on the editorial board of the paper, I can hazard a guess as to why this played out as it did. The Editor-in-chief is *not* unquestioned king of the castle at the DI when it comes to the content of editorials. If the EIC and Opinions editor published the cartoons, on the editorial page, without the approval of the editorial board, then they broke the rules (at least as I would've understood them during my time there).

So good on Acton G for doing the right thing. Freedom loving people should stand together against thugs and can't let those with no concept of freedom of speech make the rules for us. But at the same time, when you break the rules, you take your medicine.

I wrote one op-ed in college... just one!

People, focus! The real issue here is the mainstream media's failure to have the guts to run the cartoons themselves. What a bunch of pussies, rationalizing their reasons -- at the NYTimes, WaPo, CNN, etc.

As for the kid editor at the Illini: Kudos to you, kid! And you're better off finding out how toothless the media is now, befoe you waste a career there.

Perhaps we should change our immigration rules too?

"A new immigration exam became compulsory in the Netherlands Wednesday. It costs about $400 to take, is only administered in Dutch, and involves watching a video that includes scenes of a topless woman and gay men kissing. It also involves identifying Dutch celebrities. Purportedly intended to encourage the particular brand of Dutch “tolerance,” citizens of many Western countries are exempt, as are asylum seekers and high-income visitors – leaving critics to suspect it is actually aimed at warding off poor Muslims."

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