This Is Our Fight: Free Speech

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Alexandra Reinecke

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An editorial I recently penned about the inequity of university admissions has sparked considerable debate, and in some unfortunate cases, poorly expressed outrage.  Lamorinda Weekly received expletive-filled phone calls.  My boyfriend’s Ford Focus was vandalized.  I was told I would be shot.

While I do not condone vandalism, bullying, or attacks on my character, I do welcome my classmates’ free expression. Anger can be a constructive force for change; it’s the same emotion that inspired my editorial.

I didn’t write it intending to be combative, though I also must admit it was not an act of courage. I simply saw a story, witnessed an injustice, and advantaged the platform and medium available to me in order to push it into the public forum.

I follow the same process every day, producing similar, yet largely unread editorials every week.

There are those who have offered apologies and pledged support following the publication of and subsequent backlash to my article. This is kind, moving, and yet, unnecessary.

Is the volatility, the violence I’ve encountered in response to my opinions alarming? Yes. Do I regret that others have suffered as a result of my actions? No doubt. But I understood my argument’s controversy, its attendant consequences, and proceeded anyway; outrage may not be the response I expected, but from a journalistic viewpoint, it is also the one for which my editorial asked.

A teacher for whom I have great respect told me to remember that there’s no crowd on the cutting edge. And she understands what I did in drafting the piece: that morality can be –often is– determined by a metric other than majority rule.

I wasn’t looking for allies in the fight for fact, but for the small pleasure of participating in the fight for journalism, a field marked by diligence, by integrity, that has been too often attacked in recent memory. It is an field which has given me my home, my purpose, the linguistic acuity that, throughout high school has been a source of pride.

So, while I may vehemently disagree with some of my classmates’ opinions on the issue of college admission practices, I also accept that to deny those with whom I disagree a right to speech would be to deny the very journalistic freedom I myself practice.

I wrote my editorial to highlight inequity. To prompt discussion.

In an effort to further that discussion, La Puma welcomes submissions of responses of between 250-500 words to the question “Is Athletic Recruitment a Fair Path to University Admission?”

Please submit your editorial to lapuma@gmail.com. Submissions should be single-spaced, Times New Roman 12, in a Word document. In the email’s body, please include your full name, grade, and athletic association, if any.

La Puma will select editorials for publication at the staff’s discretion. The first of such, penned by senior and Duke University crew recruit Payton Fraser runs on the facing page.

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