The Paisano has a right to freedom of expression

I am writing this letter in response to a letter to the editor written by Dr. Bennie Wilson (College of Business) in the Feb. 21 issue of The Paisano.

First, I would like to give a disclaimer: I am a staff writer for this newspaper, and in writing this response, I am not representing the paper in any way. I am merely refuting the flawed logic of Dr. Wilson because it conflicted severely with my personal beliefs.

Dr. Wilson was expressing disapproval that this newspaper published expletives in a quote. The reason (yes, only one) behind his opinion is expletives are “trash” words, and to be an effective communicator, you must not use them.

After repeatedly insulting the professionalism of The Paisano’s volunteer staff, Dr. Wilson argued that it is not appropriate for the newspaper to contend that publishing expletives (in quotes) is within our constitutional right to free press. However, I think the constitutionally granted right can’t be dismissed just because Dr. Wilson doesn’t agree with it. In fact, this right is so important, the Supreme Court has to apply “strict scrutiny” any time the government tries to infringe upon it.

First, only certain people and groups define controversial words as “trash.” Some people, including me, see these words as a way to express one’s true feelings about a situation or idea. Dr. Wilson, and others, have every right to disagree with the use of these terms; however, these people cannot tell the rest of us how to speak. Personally, I argue that because The Paisano is geared toward an adult audience, there is no need to censor words in this manner.

Second, The Paisano’s duty is to report facts, which is true of all newspapers. By quoting people, we factually report what they said to us. One cannot say that we shouldn’t publish any words or content simply because she or he dislikes it. Perhaps the quote Dr. Wilson is referring to struck up a more vivid understanding for people reading the quote. Maybe the quoted person could not have said what he said in any other way because that is how he chose to express himself: a quote, by definition, is someone’s personal expression. Because The Paisano has a duty to report facts – including someone’s personal expression, as shown in quotes – the newspaper was doing what it is supposed to in this instance. Staying true to our own beliefs about writing is also a duty of journalism, which is why I contend that the newspaper acted as it should have in publishing the expletives.

Lastly, I would like to address the independence of The Paisano. Perhaps Dr. Wilson prefers this newspaper to be independent from the university because he would like to have the ability to censor what goes in here. Maintaining this independence is imperative to successful journalism about the UTSA community. If we were university-supported (and censored), then many of the articles you read today might not have been printed. The independence allows us, as student volunteers, to print what we want without fear of someone telling us what we are saying is too “controversial” or “trashy.”