- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 9, 2016

August 8, 2016

The (Champaign) News-Gazette

Ideas unwelcome

The once-sacred concept of free speech on campus continues to be under attack.

College administrators talk a lot about the importance of free speech, repeatedly emphasizing the importance of campuses being the perfect locales to discuss and debate wide-ranging ideas.

It’s too bad many of them don’t mean what they say or, if they do, have the stomach to back up their words.

The latest campus to defer to the left-wing authoritarians who take it upon themselves to decide who can say what is DePaul University in Chicago. Administrators there recently barred two speakers invited by a campus group because of concerns that the authors’ ideological opponents would engage in violent protests.

The university’s student Republican group invited British journalist Milo Yiannopoulas, a rhetorical bomb-thrower, and author/syndicated columnist Ben Shapiro.

“As the nation is struggling how to have a civil discourse, so are universities, so is DePaul,” according to a university statement.

There’s no need to struggle over how to have civil discourse; it’s easy.

While speakers - from whatever political perspective - speak, members of the audience can respectfully listen. When the speaker finishes, critics can ask tough questions. Those without a dog in the fight can take it all in and decide which side has the more persuasive argument.

To bar the presence of speakers on the grounds that those who disagree with them will be disruptive or violent is the worst possible solution. For starters, that kind of censorship violates fundamental principles of free inquiry and debate. Further, by giving censorious goons what they want, it only encourages them to escalate their practices of silencing political opponents.

Some members of some campus communities have decided that they have the authority to determine proper political discourse and that anything that displeases them is improper political discourse.

That approach represents the road to serfdom. How ironic it is that this path to ignorance and intolerance is being led by those who, at least rhetorically, know better.

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August 4, 2016

(Arlington Heights) Daily Herald

Law will give students better view of how free press works

By loosening the restrictions on high school journalists last week, the state of Illinois just dumped a whole lot of responsibility on their shoulders.

And that’s a good thing.

The bill that passed unanimously in the House and Senate and got Gov. Rauner’s signature makes a subtle but significant change in who is responsible for the content of scholastic journalism — which are high school newspapers, newspaper websites and yearbooks.

Old rules: School administrators could restrict publication of a piece, or a photo. New rules: Administrators still can reject content, but in so doing they have to show it falls into an “unprotected” category, meaning it must be either obscene or libelous, an unwarranted invasion of privacy or likely to provoke disruptive or unlawful behavior.

Students in public high schools now will have a legally protected right to choose what stories and photos will be in their publications, even those produced as part of a class.

This is an important addendum to a teenager’s civic education. Civic education teaches students the responsibility to be aware of current events, to be good stewards of their communities and to act on their beliefs, among other things. Good citizens are also savvy consumers of news, and can distinguish fact from opinion and spin.

Whether they choose a career in journalism or take another path, understanding that good journalism is verifiable, independent and authoritative, ultimately makes teens better and more engaged citizens.

This law is not intended to turn every high school publication into a muckraker, nor is it a knee-jerk reaction to a particular school not being allowed to publish a story. It does, however, raise the bar for students and their advisers.

On this day in 1852, Hosea C. Paddock, Paddock Publications’ founder, was born in upstate New York. The journalistic legacy he would create would be the importance of a tempered commitment from a newspaper to free-flowing information and ideas in the interest of furthering democracy and bettering the community. The commercial leg of his famous three-pronged motto to “fear God, tell the truth and make money” may not apply directly to student journalism, but its implication that readers, customers and constituents must be satisfied in order for a publication to thrive certainly is.

Contrary to throwing open the doors to bad taste and irresponsible reporting, Illinois’ law adds a new layer of responsibility to the production of high school journalism and will give both young journalists and the student constituencies they serve a greater and more realistic understanding of the role a free press plays in society.

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August 5, 2016

Sauk Valley

Live in a world without police? No thanks

We remember a time when it went without saying that communities supported their police officers.

It’s a different era now, with different, more difficult challenges faced by law enforcement professionals and the communities they serve.

Violent conflicts that have arisen recently in American cities have brought grief to police officers, lawbreakers, and law-abiding citizens - too many shootings, too much pain all around.

So we were gratified by the outpouring of community support earlier this week for local law enforcement officers.

To observe the nationwide “We Back Blue” day Monday, community members provided the Dixon Police Department and Lee County Sheriff’s Department with lunch, treats, desserts, and signed messages of support.

A concurrent fundraiser distributed and sold #WeBackBlue window clings, with proceeds to help fund the departments’ Shop with a Cop event.

In Oregon, members of The Gathering Place church served a meal to local police, sheriff’s and fire department personnel - another fine example of community support.

The positive feelings are mutual. In an advertisement in Thursday’s Telegraph, Lee County Sheriff John Simonton and Dixon Police Chief Danny Langloss Jr. wrote, “The show of support by our community was simply overwhelming.”

Thanks to a happy scheduling coincidence, Dixon police officers and firefighters will repay the community for its support by throwing a big bash to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Public Safety Building.

We certainly would not want to live in a world where there were no police officers to enforce the law and keep the peace.

We join the community in saluting their good work.

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