The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Consider yourself lucky

From The Editor
 Consider yourself lucky
Consider yourself lucky

Consider yourself lucky

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment ofreligion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridgingthe freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the peoplepeaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redressof grievances. — First Amendment of the Bill ofRights

There are times when even I don’t realize how privilegedwe are, as Americans, to have the kinds of protections afforded tous by the Constitution. As a practicing journalist, I’vededicated myself to taking advantage of the First Amendment, andthe freedoms it affords to my professional colleagues andmyself.

The Society of Professional Journalists is an organization”dedicated to the perpetuation of a free press as thecornerstone of our nation and our liberty.” It works toensure that the concepts outlined by the U.S. Constitution remain areality so that Americans can be well informed about both theirlocal and national communities.

As supporters and members of this organization, the staff up atThe Daily Campus works to promote this flow of communityinformation. According to the SPJ, it’s the job of everyreporter to provide this information “in an accurate,comprehensive, timely and understandable manner.”

And it’s the First Amendment that allows us the freedom todo so. The founding fathers of this country recognized howessential free speech is to a successful society. Parts of the restof the world are not as lucky.

I was particularly reminded of how precious this freedom can bewhen I was reading a favorite Blog, www.petrifiedtruth.com.

Alan, the author of PetrifiedTruth, wrote, “Peer into theinscrutable minds of China’s censors.” His postdetailed a story reported by www.telegraph.co.uk, the Web newspaperversion of Britain’s The Daily and SundayTelegraph.

Richard Spencer, a Telegraph reporter in Beijing, wrote,”Chinese computer hackers have discovered a list ofofficially banned words and topics, casting new light on theshadowy world of the country’s 30,000 Internet police.

“It is believed that the list, or one like it, was alreadybeing used to alert censors automatically to read e-mails whichcontained them.

“Some topics were predictable: human rights, democracy andphrases used to describe the Tiananmen Square massacre. But othersshowed the full sensitivity of the authorities. The list includedthe name of President Hu Jintao and the words liberty, Christian,truth, sex and brassiere.

“China has an estimated 80 million Internet users, morethan any country apart from America. The authorities are proud ofthis sign of modernity, but also aware of the danger of free accessto ideas, information and even political organizations.

“Internet companies are required to censor their own sitesand bulletin boards, and many overseas sites, including BBC News,are blocked altogether.

“Although most censorship is conducted by the governmentor Chinese companies, foreign firms such as Yahoo have beencriticized for agreeing to abide by the rules as an operatingcondition.

“The system has been nicknamed ‘the Great Firewallof China’.”

Can you imagine not being able to talk about sex on theInternet? What would you do if were not able to go CNN.com for thelatest news? Now envision the government censoring your ability toread about democracy, basic human rights or just”truth.”

I doubt you can. Like most Americans, you and I take theseliberties for granted.

We quibble about the kinds of political advertisements ontelevision. What new commercial will the Swift Boat Veterans forTruth come out with next? What will Howard Stern say next on theradio? How many different types of music can you download fromiTunes?

This ‘Great Firewall of China’ offends me. It shouldoffend you. It should outrage you that these basic freedoms arebeing denied to over a billion people.

But more than that, it should make you grateful.

Our country is rapidly approaching a highly charged politicalseason. Both candidates will absolutely infuriate you with theirplatforms, their speeches and their advertising. You will initiatepolitical discussions with your classmates and fellow professorswith the hope of changing their vote. These conversations willstretch your knowledge and your patience as your peers challengeyour point of view with arguments of their own.

As you debate, remember your information comes from a free andindependent press. As journalists, we take pride in doing our bestto present you with as much information as possible so you candecide for yourself who should be the next president of the UnitedStates.

But without the freedoms ensured by the First Amendment, none ofthis would be possible. Take pride in your country, its history andits freedoms. You have a lot to be grateful for.

 

Emily Powell is the Editor in Chief at The Daily Campus. Sheis a senior journalism major. she may be contacted [email protected].

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