Every other year I find myself having to write something about the topic known as freedom of speech, and it is usually in defense of a Daily Nexus columnist. Supporting a specific point of view expressed is not the issue here, but rather defending journalism’s most sacred amendment, an amendment that should never be dismissed, is.
Let’s begin by stating the obvious: Opinions are like assholes; everybody has one. You can agree, disagree or not give a rat’s ass about a point of view. For the sake of context, I’ll focus on the disagreement aspect.
The right to disagree with an opinion is just as valid as the right to state the opinion itself. My writings have often landed me in a world of disagreement with fellow Isla Vistans. As a result, numerous negative words and/or phrases were used to describe my opinions, but never in any of those times has anyone called for the Daily Nexus to ban my contributions.
And so we have the latest in the form of people calling for the termination of Alec Mouhibian simply because they disagree with his recent column. This is lame.
I could go on a diatribe about how the liberal mindset just can’t handle an opposing point of view, but that’s been way overused. Then again, maybe that is the core of the issue. Bear with me here.
Whenever conservatives have tried to ban or censor any form of expression, be it a book, film or song, from the public, the liberal mantra was the following: If you don’t like it, you don’t have to look at it.
In terms of television, if you find the content disturbing, you can change the channel. For radio, you can always change the station. I could go on and on, but I think anyone with reasonable intelligence can get it.
As Americans, liberal or conservative, we have the right to express ourselves through opinion. We also reserve the right to personally shut out the opinions of others, but in no way can the freedom to write an opinion in a publication result in the firing of the person who wrote said opinion. It goes against the freedoms protected.
What many fail to realize is the difference between opinion and news. News is fact and opinions are heartfelt. If a reporter consistently keeps screwing his or her facts up when reporting the news, a reprimand or firing is in order. The same applies to researchers for news articles. After all, fact is at stake. But in writing an opinion column, news and accuracy don’t apply; hence, it’s called an opinion.
Another misconception is that a publication such as the Daily Nexus can only cater to a liberal point of view. This is far from anything close to the truth. Left-leaning political inclination does not have a monopoly on this esteemed publication. It may be a vehicle for the predominant political belief, but this freedom also applies to right-leaning political views. For liberals to deny this fact only makes the liberal mindset the same as what they opine conservatives to be: fascist.
You can be offended by an opposing point of view. People find offense in just about anything. I find beets, cauliflower and avocados offensive, but I don’t have the right to shut down farms that grow these things. Offense to an opinion does not provide the right to call for the dismissal of a columnist, and don’t even try to classify it as “hate speech,” because it doesn’t even come close.
The UCSB Daily Nexus has had a history of right-leaning writers such as William Yelles and Jeff Farrah, to name only two. This publication has also had a history of liberals calling for the reprimand or dismissal of these conservative writers. Interestingly, I’ve never heard the conservatives calling for the dismissal of writers with a liberal point of view.
After all, the name of this publication is the UCSB Daily Nexus, not the UCSB Daily Liberal. In a more politically accurate world, the latter would apply. The fact remains, however, that opposing points of view do exist and they exist without the repercussion of dismissal.
If you don’t like Alec Mouhibian’s opinion, you have the option to: a) not read it; b) read it and reply with your feelings about it, negative or positive; or c) read it and just take it for what it’s worth — negative or positive.
Nobody has the right to call upon a publication to fire a writer just because they don’t agree with his or her point of view. If this were the case, nothing would ever get written in the form of opinion, and that would make for a boring publication, something the Daily Nexus has never been and never will be.
Henry Sarria is a longtime Isla Vista resident.