I know that this isn’t about Williams directly, but Middlebury is a relatively nearby peer institution, and the Middlebury Campus, which although not as fantab as the illustrious Williams Record (as a former editor, no, I’m not biased…), is a student newspaper, and therefore, raises universal issues of student journalists’ freedom of speech within the academy.
The situation: the editor-in-chief of the Middlebury Campus resigns and apologizes in the wake of the paper publishing a doctored photo that makes soon-to-be graduation speaker, former NYC mayor Rudolph Giuliani, look like Hitler, as a graphic to accompany an anti-Giuliani op-ed (for a more in-depth discussion, see this article from the NY Times).
While I question the commonsense of the editorial board for even considering running such an obviously incendiary graphic, I am even more disappointed in the editor-in-chief’s decision to apologize and resign. Not only should the editor-in-chief have the personal pride to stand by her decision to run the graphic, but the newspaper is within the bounds of its publishing rights. The op-ed, despite its verging-on-offensive opinionatedness, was just as provocative as the graphic, yet it was not singled out for protest. Indeed, this graphic was a similar expression of opinion and was located on the opinions page of the paper, and, therefore, did not represent the views of the editorial board. Granted that the graphic’s inclusion was in poor taste; but it does not constitute categorization as an overt act of hate speech posing a clear and present danger, which is the only legal reason to prevent publication of content.
Update: Follow this link to find an earlier discussion of the Middlebury Campus‘ Giuliani-Hitler image controversy, as well as interesting comments by Middlebury folk at the way-cool Middblog (as I pat myself on the back for scooping the Middblog on its coverage of the NY Times article :)).