Disagreeing with what you say, but fighting for your right to say it

Ed Desk Blog

By: Cody Boteler, Editor-in-Chief

While it turns out Voltaire never actually said, “I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” it’s still a great phrase–and one that, as a journalist, I find myself thinking about fairly regularly.

I’m thinking about it now, because when I first sat down to write this week’s editorial, I had no idea what I would talk about. My instinct told me to write about the Online News Association Conference that I just got back from, but nobody would care about that, if I’m being honest with myself.

And, then, I sat down and looked at the opinion page, and was absolutely shocked by the column that appears next to this one in the print edition of The Towerlight.

Dylan, one of our columnists (who I’m very, very grateful for–it can be hard to find columnists on this campus that don’t just default to liberal), wrote about the health of the two major party candidates for president.

Well, OK. Mostly he wrote about Secretary Clinton’s health. I don’t have any problem with that by itself. In fact, I think we should be taking the candidates’ health seriously.

But what the column does that I disagree with is speculate. And our columnist isn’t the first to speculate, so this isn’t all on him.

That being said, I think it is incredibly irresponsible for anyone of influence or with any sort of platform in the public sphere to dive into speculation, especially speculation that takes as many leaps and bounds as that around Clinton’s health does.

I’d be saying the same thing if people were speculating so wildly about Trump’s health. It’s not responsible, especially when it’s broadcast on TV in a storm of talking heads.

However. Even though I think speculation like this is poor form, I would never dream of censoring it. The First Amendment needs to be protected in all circumstances, not just the circumstances where I agree with the speech.

There’s a lot I could criticize the candidates on and there’s a lot I could criticize the candidates on.

But I’m going to do all I can do, as a journalist and as the head of a news organization, to protect the sacred promises that are in our First Amendment.

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