Editor, Daily Nexus,
Freedom of expression is certainly a necessary part of a democracy dependent upon an educated citizenry. However, there is just as certainly a point at which expression, such as when it is considered harmful to others, must be constrained. This leaves a middle area in which mature consideration of appropriateness must determine a boundary between acceptable and unacceptable.
The University of California system, as charged by and financially supported by state residents and taxpayers, is an institution where those who attend learn, in addition to perhaps minimal amounts of academic subject matter, a level of maturity, understanding and consideration for others, or social awareness. The article “I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream – Just Not in My Room,” in the Opinion section of the Daily Nexus, Oct. 16, 2002, certainly violates the above considerations. The social awareness and maturity level of Beth Van Dyke is a disappointing display. Even allowing for selfishness and overreaction to a personally annoying situation – no doubt, a freedom of her own behavior Ms. Van Dyke would, in other contexts, fight for – the writer uses language, both figuratively and rhetorically, that betrays an inability to express one’s ideas in a public forum, such as a school newspaper. I wonder about the justification your newspaper editor used to allow this type of language to be used by any student writer. It might be thought that this form of expression is humor, but does it come even close to fulfilling the responsibility of any writer to communicate ideas by not relying upon repetition of taboo terms and sexual details?
I am sure it is difficult to constrain the “rights” of most American youth, but one would hope that at least the level of written expression in a college newspaper would be above the emotional and maturational level typically found in high school. In fact, it is the level of behavior that justifies high school rules, which I assume Ms. Van Dyke obeyed. Can she not learn to obey college newspaper rules? Or are we to assume that UCSB is but a higher high school? I suppose I expected more out of an institution considered so highly that only a select number of high school graduates are given the opportunity to attend.