Today’s conservatives are tomorrow’s punching bags

Dear Carly,

While moderating online comments on Cal State Fullerton’s Daily Titan website, I read your response to Keith Fierro’s article, “A ‘Fluke’ in this situation,” regarding the Rush Limbaugh/Sandra Fluke incident, and I have to honestly say, I’m not sure what it is you think I should be ashamed of.

Throughout the course of a single semester, I have the, um, pleasure of reading opinion articles the print journalism capstone class, COMM 471 writes for the school newspaper. While some are decent, some tend to give me horrible migraines because writers don’t exactly know how to write an opinion piece.

An opinion is an argument, and as a writer it is your job to defend it. You boldly state your argument, and use credible facts and statistics to support your argument. You are free to do this in any way you so desire, but I tell my writers to keep in mind that while I require a minimum of one credible source, they can never have too many in their articles. It just makes it more difficult for readers to leave condescending comments disproving the argument.

I would have loved to see Fierro back up his implication that women who have sex do worse in school. Or explain further why it’s “intellectually dishonest to pretend this debate is about women using oral contraceptives to manage mild acne or treat polycystic ovary syndrome.” He did use credible sources regarding the price of contraception at D.C. Target pharmacies and how much Cal State Fullerton commuters spend on gas. But I wasn’t going to make any more suggestions if he’s not a fan of being edited.

His originial ingenius title, "Today's nymphomaniacs are tomorrow's independent women" was too long and lacked the humor he so badly desired.

So if his lack of proving that women who engage in sexual activities get lower grades than they should and could care less about the pill’s other health benefits is what makes him a shitty writer, then I will defend your opinion to the end, my dear.

But I wish people like Chris who claims Fierro has “Poor punctuation, badly constructed sentences,” and Jon who claims that Fierro’s grammar is not the best would defend their argument on those mere opinions. For one, it’s not a slap in the face to Fierro; it’s a slap in the face to my editing skills and that of the copy desk’s, who stay in the newsroom beyond midnight every production night trying to avoid grammar, punctuation, and writing style errors, and WE are the ones who need that kind of critiquing. That, and it just sounds like Chris and Jon want to come up with some intelligent response but have nothing constructive to say, so they resort to childish insults.

But there are a lot of childish antics going around between both parties, anyway.

Seriously, how old are we again?

As I care about the integrity of my staff writers, I was grateful that Fierro kindly demonstrated to them that although it takes a lot more effort to go and find credible sources to back up ALL the claims and implications they make, it’s worth it in the end. They should be counting their blessings, as they can go to bed without several people passing out brochures about them and harassing them via personal blog, Facebook and Twitter.

But I digress. Let’s get back to this “shame” that I should apparently have. I’m going to take a shot in the dark and assume you mean I should be ashamed that I allowed this article to go to print. Well, perhaps I would if the First Amendment wasn’t still in effect.

In America, we have the luxury of free speech, but many luxuries tend to come with a price. Ours is sometimes having to read and listen to things we don’t necessarily agree with. It’s unethical and extremely biased for us to only publish opinions we agree with.

As an editor, I don’t have an issue with that in the slightest. Would you imagine what the Daily Titan would be like if every single opinion article matched the exact same opinion of the entire Cal State University populace? No one would give a shit about my section! Who really wants to read about things they already know and similar opinions they already have? You wouldn’t need a reason to read the opinion section, and trust me, that’s the first place I want your eyes when you pick up a hard copy of the paper.

And for the record, just because I chose to run the “Fluke” piece doesn’t mean I’m supporting him and we’re best buddies now. If anything, publishing his article was a quiet way of actually feeding him to the lions.

Personally, I’ve only used oral contraceptive during intercourse once, and that was when a condom broke inside me. Because I am that paranoid about getting knocked up, I’m more than happy to take money out of my own pocket and buy some Trojans to use with the pill as well. I apparently don’t trust the pill enough to be comfortable with a man ejaculation inside me, but I am extremely satisfied with the health benefits I gained from it. My acne, which I was always self-conscious about and was a big blow to my self-esteem, finally went away. My periods are now either heavy and short, or light and long, but no longer long and heavy. Even if I never had sex again, I’d still be on this lifesaver.

So for a man who can’t even begin to fathom how the female body biologically operates to write an article, implying that I’m a whore and a liar about what I use the pill for—an article that I have to spend precious time editing and fact-checking—is a huge middle finger to my face. If my assistant and the copy desk editors felt the exact same way, it’s only common sense other women would, too. So forgive me if I wasn’t going to hesitate to put a rude, loudmouthed, pompous Republican’s name out there for all other women to see.

He's never getting laid, is he?

I can definitely agree with you on one thing though, Carly—you are absolutely correct that this isn’t journalism. Fierro’s not a journalist. He’s studying political science. I published his work as a freelancer; in case you didn’t know, that’s the difference between “Daily Titan” and “For the Daily Titan” in the bylines of the printed issues. Just a little fun fact for you. We try to leave the real objective reporting to those who have spent three to four years being taught to do a better job than that.

But while we’re on that subject, and correct me if I’m wrong, I thought people expected the truth from journalists. I could have lied by not publishing Fierro’s article and covering up the fact that people with his mindset other than Rush Limbaugh do exist out in the real world, and some of them are on our campus. Or I could have been the honest editor I’d expect you’d expect from me, and expose his opinion (and full name in the byline) that he willingly gave me.

Either way, I guess I’m just not pleasing anyone. Guess it’s time to go to Home Depot, buy some wood, build a bridge, and get over it, then. Shame is the last thing I’m feeling.

Yours most sincerely,

A Pink Pill-Poppin’ Prostitute

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About Charlotte Knight

I'm a lover and a fighter.
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3 Responses to Today’s conservatives are tomorrow’s punching bags

  1. Nuran Alteir says:

    Point well made! I loved reading this Charlotte. Just because we don’t agree with someone’s ideas doesn’t mean we should censor them. I don’t agree with Fierro’s arguments one bit, but I also don’t agree with people who think we shouldn’t have run the piece all-together.

    • This is Not Journalistic Objectivity says:

      This argument is just something to hide behind when things get troublesome. As a journalist and Comm major, I absolutely loathe the propensity of my fellow writers to jump behind the first amendment as soon as controversy strikes — holding their nose up at the rest of us while washing their hands of any guilt. I’m sure the people at the Daily Titan think their newspaper is better and more credible than the National Inquirer or any of the other publications that publish outlandish, uncredible stories. Requiring one source? Come on! How about forming a rational opinion? I took opinion writing at CSUF, I was taught to back up your opinions with fact. He did not. Or at least he didn’t outside of the price research at Target. Saying that this then qualifies it as credible is like saying that you’d publish someone with the opinion that witches should be burned because fire, indeed, is hot. And saying that you did this to throw him to the wolves? You can’t have it both ways. You’re either self-righteous or Pontius Pilate?

  2. Renae says:

    Perhaps the problem with Fiero’s piece had more to do with the fact that he attacked Fluke without ever having read her actual testimony. The facts he distorts are related to his misrepresentation of her arguments in order to attack women who are sexually active as “sluts,” in Rush Limbaugh’s words. Free speech is fundamental to constitutional rights. However, slander is not protected under this rubric. And Fiero basically slanders Fluke based on misrepresentations of her arguments. That seems to me the job of the Opinion editor–to make sure that opinion pieces are grounded in fact. It’s a difficult job, but one that is crucial to a free and rational discourse.

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