Newspaper Censorship

Spinnaker

In 1933, the Main Offices for Press and Propaganda of the German Student Association proclaimed a nationwide “Action Against the Un-German Spirit.” These students, at the same university at which Albert Einstein taught, burned around 25,000 volumes of “un-German” books, presaging an era of state censorship and control of culture.

You can learn about this event and many like it at the UNF Library. An exhibit is on display that discusses these perils in detail in an effort to ensure they do not happen again.

Though not quite to the extremes of Nazism, the Spinnaker and numerous other college publications, have been subjected to many forms of newspaper censorship.

Many of you recurring readers of the Spinnaker are aware of the incident we faced last year, in which we published a front-page cover depicting two young adults simulating oral sex. That cover was accompanied by an informative news piece – one that researched a breaking study of findings that suggested performing oral sex could lead to higher levels of HPV contraction.

The cover was praised by those who aren’t ashamed by the virtue of human sexuality and those who simply respected our right to exercise freedom of speech.

But some UNF officials unabashedly removed papers from their boxes without our consent – though, they did ask after the fact. Not only that, Student Government’s Budget and Allocations committee, lead by then Sen. John Scorza, attempted – but were incompetent to – freeze the Spinnaker’s at-the-time $66,000 budget, which makes up about half of our staff’s salaries, on grounds that the Spinnaker unlawfully broke an ad agreement.

We’d like to believe that was the case, but we don’t.

Ryan Winter, another SG member who was on the Center for Student Media advisory board, demanded the Spinnaker be pulled from its boxes. Fortunately, the board had our back and denied his request.

Before the oral sex cover, Jacob Victor, a Pi Kappa Phi fraternity member, and others we suspect were a part of the same fraternity, destroyed around 4,000 copies of the Spinnaker. They dumped them in a lake because a fellow frat brother, Eric Pond, was mentioned in our Police Beat section for being charged with a crime on campus. We know this because we were given an anonymous tip, which eventually resulted in a check from Victor after he went to student conduct.

It doesn’t end there.

Two of our iconic Spinnaker boxes have been stolen, as well. The most recent box, valued at $280, was nicked at one of our locations next to the shuttle stop outside the Student Union. This might be an appropriate time to mention that the Spinnaker is offering a reward to anybody that has information about this crime. Anonymous tips will be accepted. Though this may have been just a prank, the upshot is still the same.

Indeed, we will continue to replace our boxes and our papers. And yes, we will be infuriated. But it is you, dear reader, who should be the most enraged – for it is you who bears the biggest burden. It is you that is being made a mockery.

In the First Amendment, the founding fathers gave the press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press is to serve the governed, not the governors. The press is to be protected so that it can bare the secrets of wrong-doers and inform the people.

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must undergo the fatigue of defending it.

Many don’t understand that debate on social issues must be uninhibited, robust and open-minded, which may or may not include vehement, abrasive and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.

We must remember, as journalist Edward R. Murrow put it, not to confuse dissent with disloyalty.

So, pranksters, naysayers, cowardice mountebanks, when you destroy a Spinnaker for its content, remember: You are not only breaking the law, you are destroying the underlying democratic fabric that enables the most remarkable of all human achievements and the very reason you have a public university newspaper to destroy at all.

Every day the Spinnaker staff – the writers, the editors, the art team – mauls through publications far and local and trickles through the Internet in search of relevant facts, opinions, grievances, injustices, discoveries and the like, to our best ability, to ensue truth.

So far, this year, we’ve uncovered issues concerning the wellness center’s construction delay. We’ve informed you about the charges against a tenured professor for having sex with a minor. In this issue, you can decide for yourself whether UPD unjustifiably Tased a student’s brother. These are stories no other media have covered. We are all you’ve got.

We strive to ensure that you are getting the facts and the most thought-provoking opinions. If you don’t like our point of view, please write to us, and we will print your rebuttal. We encourage it. Whether you love us or hate us, this much is true: You would miss us if we were gone.

Quotes of the week:

“Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.” – John Quincy Adams

He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack (Proverbs 28:27)