OPINION: In regard to offensive language in today's Crimson WhiteBy Will Tucker | 02/27/2013 11:00pm
Today, you may read a story under my byline on the front page of our print edition that uses offensive language. Because of its offensive nature, an explanation for its use is necessary—much in the same way an explanation of our use of anonymous sources in our story on pledgeship was necessary. Our readers, especially those who are offended by the quote, deserve such an explanation.
First and foremost, I wrote the story and decided to use the language my source was using. It was a judgment call on my part. My source’s initial trepidation to use everyday language while the recorder was on—that is, using words like the f-word—helps define him as a person, and helps by association to define the nature of interpersonal conversation in Alabama’s Black Belt region. Further, such speech is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
However, the decision to run such a quote even when used in this manner on the front page and above the fold in a free, public newspaper of record should not be made lightly. We, and I, personally, should understand the weight of such language in such a place moving forward. In the future, we will do so, taking into account opinions expressed to us by those in the campus community who feel offended today.
Personally, the response to my story has taught me that editorial decisions like this have consequences for those here who constantly defend The Crimson White's editorial freedom and whom I respect deeply. As much as I would like to take in all criticism and explain the reasoning behind the decision myself, I can't. I can, though, commit to taking in those critiques and opinions myself and thoughtfully considering each one.
So, opinions about our decision will not fall on deaf ears. I welcome all criticism, suggestions and comments about what ultimately was a judgment call made by myself and several other top Crimson White editors and promise that your input will be put to use as we continue to make thoughtful, earnest editorial decisions as the leaders of our newspaper.
Will Tucker is the editor-in-chief of The Crimson White.