Letters to the Editor

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Editor,

The students alleging the Collegian “hates free speech” Thursday in the Union need a crash course in the rights to free speech and a free press. The group asserting the Collegian “censored” Chuck Armstrong’s article, which was handed out by the group in the Union, clearly doesn’t understand the right to free speech allows every person in this country to think and say what they want. The right to a free press guarantees the media will operate separately from the government apparatus and remain under private control. Nowhere does the Constitution guarantee all thoughts and opinions held under the “free speech guarantee” will be printed in the “free press.” The group did use its right to free speech correctly by speaking out in the Union. It’s too bad they didn’t have a case. After reading the article, I agreed with the Collegian’s decision. After its horrific decision to run Brigitte Brecheisen’s now-infamous “miscreant” editorial, I was glad to see the staff exercising more control within the editorial page. Just because Armstrong – whose piece claimed “All Americans need to stand up for Western civilization” and “to side with Islam is to side with the enemy of America” – is a staff member does not mean his writing is above question. If anything, regular editorialists need to be held to a higher standard of fairness in what is meant to be intelligent, thought-provoking writing. Timothy A. Schuler, senior in print journalism

Editor,

As the president of a fraternity on campus which has a founding principle, “to lead in determining the rights and privileges of individuals in society,” I was appalled at the racist propaganda being handed out in the K-State Student Union. Apparently, the Collegian (very wisely) decided to not run an editorial written by the conservative writer Chuck Armstrong. The College Republicans felt it appropriate to spread this editorial to everyone possible in the Union. This opinion piece contained inflammatory statements like “to side with Islam is to side with the enemy of America” and “the religion of Islam promotes the destruction of every foundation of America.” Though every American citizen is entitled to his opinion, he loses his right to voice that opinion the moment it could incite a riot. This document was hate speech and anti-Islamic propaganda at its finest. When I went to the Union’s office, they did nothing and then 30 minutes later, the director called K-State Police to investigate. “We are not the free-speech police. We don’t determine what is free speech and what isn’t,” said an officer of campus police. He made these statements after signing the petition to publish this horrific opinion piece – in front of a group of Middle Eastern students. It is a shame that such hatemongering has come to K-State after making national headlines at Ivy League schools. It was only a matter of time. Cheers to the editors for having the foresight to not publish rubbish, and jeers to the Union and campus police for allowing these actions. I close with a quote by Pastor Martin Niemueller that led me to stand up for what was right today: “First they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me.” Dusty Garner freshman in political science

Editor,

Recently an article was published that would make it seem as though Barack Obama’s use of his religious beliefs to gain votes is a completely new concept to the world of politics. Wrong. Have we forgotten about how President Bush used his “good Christian values” to sway the hearts of Americans in the last two elections? Or how Republicans repeatedly justify their fight to ban abortion and gay marriage on the basis the Bible says it is wrong? As a follower of Obama, I am disappointed in his use of religion to gain votes. This is also because I firmly believe the Constitution was written for a reason, and it should be followed. Namely, I’m talking about separation of church and state. According to the most recent census, about 65 percent of Americans are Christian. Many believe this is an inflated number due to the fact many people who should more likely be considered atheist or agnostic select some Christian religion on their census because it is convenient. Also, when a parent selects a religion, all children under the age of 18 are automatically grouped in that same category. With that in mind, it is more likely that the percentage of Americans who are practicing their religion is less than 50 percent. Knowing this, we should realize that a presidential candidate’s ability to run a country should not be based on his or her religious beliefs. To make a decision for the people of this country based on a religious faith is a slap to the face of all people who practice other religions. Rather, we should recognize the shared, nonreligious specific, values that all human beings can understand and support. I don’t know about you, but when the next election rolls around I won’t care which candidate had a better attendance record in church when they were young. But, I will look for the person who has the best ability to run this country while being tolerant and understanding of all religious backgrounds. Religion has no place in politics, and the day we achieve that is the day we can begin to move toward a more tolerant and peaceful world.

Travis Stuewe Sophomore in economics

Editor,

I wanted to express my viewpoint concerning the controversy surrounding the decision to not print Chuck Armstrong’s last column. I have read the column for myself, and I found it far more relevant and informative than much of what passes for “journalism” in the Collegian (see the pointless full page feature on characters from “The Hills” that ran on Oct. 11). There is no justification for suppressing a valid opinion just because it might cause a stir, or worse, possibly offend someone, if printed.

Brett Vaughn, junior in chemistry

I am writing in response to the controversy raised by former Collegian columnist Chuck Armstrong, and your editorial staff’s decision not to print his weekly column. I read a copy of the article in question, which was widely distributed Thursday in the K-State Student Union, and fully support the paper’s decision not to print this inflammatory attack on Islam. As a fellow journalism student here at K-State, I am both shocked and saddened that Mr. Armstrong seems to have so woefully misinterpreted what rights fall under the protective umbrella of free speech. Freedom of speech, a concept grounded in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, was intended by the framers to protect citizens’ rights to speak freely about social and political issues without fear of retribution. Does this include Mr. Armstrong’s right to publicly express his opinion? Absolutely. Does it protect his right to blanket the entire Muslim religion as violent and fundamentalist? Absolutely not. The editorial in question was filled with many statements, characterizing Islam as violent and terroristic, none of which were backed by fact, or a single verse from the Koran. Furthermore, Mr. Armstrong seems to have sought little balance in the form of outside sources or alternate points of view. And just as I believe most Christians would not want their entire religion to be represented by Topeka’s own Fred Phelps, I’m sure most Muslims would not endorse Osama bin Laden as a true representative of the Muslim faith. Free speech should be based in fact and responsibility, neither of which were displayed in Mr. Armstrong’s column. I applaud your publication’s decision not to print this article, and spread these remarkably hateful characterizations of the Muslim faith. Christina Hansen senior in print journalism

Dear editor,

There are details missing from Friday’s article, “Former columnist claims Collegian editor censored content.” One detail is the fact that my column was called racist. While this of course cannot be, because Islam is not a race, it is still a big accusation to be casually tossing around. I twice requested reasons as to why the piece was called racist. While Editor in Chief Alex Peak never addressed that request, she did respectfully decline to appear on my talk show this evening. It seems as though the responsible thing to do would be to back up her opinion. Another thing that was left out was the comment Peak and Managing Editor Jon Garten made during our discussion Tuesday night. Both mentioned the “trouble” this column could stir up. In fact, Garten referred to it as a “headache.” So while Peak may say my column was pulled because it was not up to Collegian standards, the authors of the article forgot to mention that Peak and Garten were scared of the potential headache they might receive. On that subject, I’m surprised she let this slip by her standards test: “Separation of church and state is guaranteed to citizens through the First Amendment.” (Taken from Christine Caplinger’s column on Oct. 10) Lastly, I have yet to make any claims of taking legal action against Peak or the Collegian newspaper, so please do not hide behind a legal definition of censorship. Open up a dictionary. You need to acknowledge that you censored my column. Chuck Armstrongsenior in mass communications

Dear editor,

Chuck Armstrong’s views on Islam in his unprinted article are skewed, reactionary, incendiary and dangerous. Also, his tactics in bringing to light his “free-speech rights” being violated are insensitive and sophomoric. For those who have not read the article, he calls out Rosie O’Donnell and the “liberals” for being too accommodating to the Islamic faith. He then goes on, using verses from the Koran and one “expert” to prove why Islam is a religion of violence. Finally, he ends his tirade by stating that anyone who supports Islam is an “enemy of America.” First, the slander of Rosie O’Donnell is uncreative and lends no credibility to his article. Armstrong also blames the liberals for supporting the Islamic faith as an equal religion to Christianity. There is a reason “liberals” like myself view all religion as equal, Armstrong. It is the right thing to do, and our Constitution says so. To treat any person, group or religion as unequal has brought about over 200 years of just civil activism to rectify the rights that were denied to these individuals in the foundation of our great and free country. To say that Islam is a faith of violence might be a fair but incomplete judgment. Yes, there are parts of the Koran that justify violence. There are also many passages in the Bible that justify violence against nonbelievers. For example: Deuteronomy 17:2-7, Exodus 22:18, and my favorite reason for not taking ancient texts literally, Psalms 137:9. Most – if not all – religions call for the execution of anyone who does not believe what they believe. To single out Islam simply for being the predominant faith of our enemies in Iraq and the so-called “War on Terror” is short-sighted and dangerous. I personally know many Muslims. Like my Christian friends, they do not take the calls to violence of their respective religious texts literally; they are peaceful and almost friendly to a fault. To call anyone who supports Islam the “enemy of America” is irresponsible. It is this sort of mentality that leads us into non-negotiable situations, which leads to wars and even more misunderstanding as we are seeing right now. Also, let’s not forget who gave Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein their weapons and monetary support in the 1980s either. It was the U.S. government under the supervision of conservative President Ronald Reagan. Moving on to the issue of the rampant sidewalk chalkings around campus indicting the Collegian for restricting First Amendment rights: some are respectable; others, immature. The Collegian censored the article for a reason. Only a month ago, the publication took heavy flak for a racially insensitive and under-researched article involving Mexican immigration. Can you really blame them for not running Armstrong’s under-researched, inflammatory article that panders to the fear and ignorance of its young readers? The sidewalk chalk was unnecessary. To read the comment “The Collegian: Cheaper than toilet paper” is a slap in the face to the publication that has done nothing but support Armstrong’s opinions for the past two years. Personally, I thought Armstrong had much better class and judgment, but I was let down. When people see other human beings as enemies for having a personal belief other than their own, there can only be one solution: conflict. If humanity wants to grow and evolve, we must see our differences as something that we can all learn from. If we do not, we end up in never-ending, life-wasting wars. It’s been going on for centuries. Personally I’m sick of it. This article was nothing but another call to violence against our fellow man. I for one am proudly refusing to call anyone I don’t know or understand an enemy. Gandhi said, “It is easy enough to be friendly to one’s friends. But to befriend the one who regards himself as your enemy is the quintessence of true religion.” And in the Bible – in Luke 6:27-28 – Jesus Christ said: “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

Cale Errebojunior in political science

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