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"Brown Students Steal Univ. Paper"
March 19, 2001 6:16 AM   Subscribe

"Brown Students Steal Univ. Paper" File Under: When headlines get into this weird intentional?/unintentional? pun thing.
posted by Outlawyr (19 comments total)

 
"I think there's a fine line between free speech and being disrespectful and distasteful, and the Brown Daily Herald clearly crossed the line," sophomore Clement Tsao told the Globe.

I loved this line. Whoever paid for this boy's education should ask for his money back.
posted by ratbastard at 6:31 AM on March 19, 2001


Yeah, but the key is here that you've tapped into a long-running dispute that has yet to be decided decisively: if a student newspaper is given away free, and someone goes around to each box and takes all the copies, then is that stealing? Does motive come into play?
posted by Mo Nickels at 6:31 AM on March 19, 2001


Sorry, 30 day limit on the satisfaction part. Fine line! Ha!
posted by tiaka at 7:07 AM on March 19, 2001


The issue here has nothing to do with whether taking all the copies of a free newspaper constitutes stealing. Mobs stormed a newspaper office and demanded the destruction of all copies and the resignation of the editor. This is an absolutely unacceptable response to speech that you disagree with in a free society. These are tactics that the Brownshirts would've been proud of.

Not that this should surprise anyone familiar with Brown U.
posted by MrBaliHai at 7:29 AM on March 19, 2001


So, uh, no one wants to talk about whether the pun in the title was on purpose or not? Nothing? No one? [wanders off muttering]
posted by Outlawyr at 7:58 AM on March 19, 2001


Yeah, but the key is here that you've tapped into a long-running dispute that has yet to be decided decisively: if a student newspaper is given away free, and someone goes around to each box and takes all the copies, then is that stealing?

I can't immediately find the case to cite, but the issue has been decided at the appellate level. While free newspapers are indeed free, the court did rule that they have an inherent value, and as such are subject to protection. In the case I remember, the court ruled the thefts were actionable on two levels: First, the theft constituted theft by taking because of the inherent value. Second, the publishers had a right to sue on suppression of first amendment rights grounds.

As an absolutist on the First Amendment, I am absolutely flabbergasted at the number of college students who don't get it. i.e. the First Amendment is great until it pisses me off. I remember as a project for my master's in communication, I went around the streets of Atlanta with a copy of the First Amendment, telling people that it was a proposed amendment to the constitution, and asking if they favored it or were opposed to it. A shocking 61% percent opposed it.
posted by darren at 8:33 AM on March 19, 2001


The sad thing to me is that Brown students, supposedly among the brightest in the nation, never thought to try fighting intellectual ideas with intellectual ideas. Why not have a coalition of students write a response to the paid ad, and ask the paper to run it as an op/ed piece?

Oh, yeah, it would've been too much like right. It's much easier to act like a bunch of intolerant, jackbooted thugs.
posted by Dreama at 8:40 AM on March 19, 2001


"The protesters pounded on the door and demanded an apology and financial amends for the ad in Tuesday's editions."

Financial amends?
posted by amanda at 8:47 AM on March 19, 2001


For slavery.
posted by tiaka at 8:52 AM on March 19, 2001


I think "financial amends" refers to their suggestion that the money made from the ad should be donated to minority programs on campus.
posted by mblandi at 8:59 AM on March 19, 2001


I'm sure they want reparations for all who were [gasp] damaged by their exposure to this shocking, shocking ad.

Hey, since some of my ancestors emigrated because of the Irish potato famine, can we all demand reparations from Ore-Ida?
posted by darren at 9:17 AM on March 19, 2001


...and the British are still waiting for reparations from Italy for the Roman invasion.
posted by normy at 9:36 AM on March 19, 2001


I'm pushing for egypt to give reparations to the isrealites. If it weren't for charton heston, they'd still be under pharoah's thumb.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:38 AM on March 19, 2001


The sad thing to me is that Brown students, supposedly among the brightest in the nation, never thought to try fighting intellectual ideas with intellectual ideas. Why not have a coalition of students write a response to the paid ad, and ask the paper to run it as an op/ed piece?

The Brown Daily Herald is... ummm... not a journalistic paragon; I'm not sure that it's the proper forum for an extended debate, given that back-and-forths in the BDH tend to either last for weeks or end with a whimper. I'm sure some of the members of the Brown student body are writing letters to the editor and guest editorials (and I'm equally sure the vast majority of students don't particularly care), but intolerant bands of students that seize newspapers certainly make better copy.

There seem to be a whole buncha letters on the BDH's website, but it's slashdotted at the moment so I can't read any of them. The head of the Brown ACLU chapter (which is a student-run organization, IIRC, was quoted in a story I read about the newspaper seizure, so he's probably weighing in. I checked out the site over the weekend and I don't think there were any letters to the editor up then, although there were some charming borderline-racist posts to the discussion boards.

This is an absolutely unacceptable response to speech that you disagree with in a free society.

Obviously seizing the papers is beyond the pale, but are you saying that calling for the editor's resignation is an unacceptable response? To play devil's advocate for a moment, the BDH is an semi-independent organization, and every student pays for a subscription via his or her student fees -- with some of the cost of printing the BDH coming out of your (or, more likely, your parents') pocket,, no way of getting that money back, and no way of getting satisfaction from the editorial leadership, what are students supposed to do?

(Although the answer is not "steal all the newspapers," I'm not sure what the solution is short of joining the staff and hoping to one day get a position on the editorial board, as you can't cancel your subscription.)

I'm pushing for egypt to give reparations to the isrealites. If it weren't for charton heston, they'd still be under pharoah's thumb.

I think the gorillas should make reparations to the chimpanzees and orangutans; those damn dirty apes ruled the planet with an iron fist until Charlton blew it up!

As re: the original not-really-a-pun, there was a case while I went to college there involving a South Asian student getting beaten up at a bar; there was some question as to whether the various comments the assailant made were meant to be derogatory towards the student's ethnicity or his college affiliation...
posted by snarkout at 9:52 AM on March 19, 2001


Snark, at last, someone addresses the issue raised in the original post. Thanks, thanks, and more thanks.

To the rest of the posters, yes, suppressing speech is bad. Censorship is bad. You are correct. Have a nice day.
posted by Outlawyr at 10:09 AM on March 19, 2001


The issues being discussed are far more interesting than the lame [and hardly entrancing] pun.
posted by darren at 1:15 PM on March 19, 2001


OH yes, stating the obvious (censorship=BAD) is far more entrancing then racist undertones in a story's ill thought out headline, which I'm still not convinced was an accident.
posted by Outlawyr at 2:05 PM on March 19, 2001


"We will not budge. If someone finds an advertisement offensive, too bad. We will not censor speech. .... What? If someone submitted an article that an advertiser found offensive? Well uh.... ahrhem.... uhh....."


I fucking LOVE IT!
posted by TheShovel at 2:28 PM on March 19, 2001


Hey, Outlwyr, I appreciated the malapropism (?) of the headline. Takes me back to the days of Bush the Elder referring to his son's children as the "little brown ones" at the 1992 (?) Republican Convention!
posted by davidmsc at 3:32 PM on March 19, 2001


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