Respect rights of columnists

Staff Editorial

You're not always going to like what you read. A newspaper's opinion page is, by nature, controversial. So be angry. Be outraged. Just keep it dignified.

There is an unspoken code of behavior when it comes to debating issues within a newspaper. We encourage readers to criticize and critique the arguments voiced within our opinion pages. However, there is a line to be drawn. The harassment that has followed some columnists over the past few weeks - the nasty phone calls, the verbal assault - is uncalled for. Making it personal takes it below the belt.

You're not always going to agree with views expressed in The Eagle's opinion pages, but that's not the point. The point is to foster debate, to create a forum to freely discuss issues being disputed within society and the AU community. Conservative or liberal, popular or controversial, each argument deserves space.

Placing your name and photo next to your opinion in print takes courage, and standing by your convictions when so many adamantly oppose them takes guts. Bullying someone because they have different views, however, does not.

It only creates a stigma on AU's small campus: Submit your opinion to The Eagle and risk harassment. Not only does the individual suffer, but the willingness for people with minority views to express themselves in future pages diminishes. If only the majority view is presented, how can issues be properly discussed?

So be angry, but be constructive. Don't like what you read? We encourage you to follow the dozens of other readers who flooded The Eagle's e-mail box with letters and opinion pieces voicing their views.

Our community loses if a few vocal believers viciously squelch the views of an unpopular columnist by resorting to harassment. Combat the stances of written columns with the pen - not with irresponsible and vicious verbal harassment.

Allow the better argument to win.

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