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Rabble, Roused

Friday, 30 September 2007, on Ohio University's College Green, a number of concerned faculty and students raised community awareness regarding the racist sentiments expressed in Chris Yonker's recent editorial for The Post. At one point, two young men drove by and the driver hollered, "It's called free speech," overlooking the fact that the protest was also an exercise of First Amendment Rights.

Left to Right: Johnnie Wilcox (aka mistersquid), Amanda Nolacea Harris, and George Hartley
Photo taken by Dinty Moore

In all honesty, I do feel that the petition circulated at the protest which called for Yonker's termination opposed free speech. I did not sign the petition, but I did feel a need to draw awareness and visibility to the lack of political diversity on the editorial board of The Post. I do commend the editorial board for choosing to print criticisms of Yonker's piece, but I am disappointed Yonker and his superior Matt Zapotosky did not offer an apology. Rumor has it that there was a contest among the staff writers to see who could draw the most responses with an upcoming batch of editorials and articles.

I have no trouble believing Yonker's piece was what is known in Internet-speak as a "troll." I suspected it might be after reading the article. What drew me out, however, is the casual racism of Yonker's piece. As a side note, one of the most negative aspects of online journalism—which encourages reader contribution and which receives revenue based on traffic—is that inflammatory and uninformed reporting is financially rewarded. Notoriety is taken for success while journalistic integrity becomes so much sentimentalism.

At the monument just East of where we were gathered, a group of AFSCME-affiliated employees and reporters the Ohio University Students for a Democratic Society had gathered to protest Ohio University's implementation of "Free Speech Zones". On his way to that gathering, one fellow stopped by and asked Fernando (a student who was part of our gathering) about our motivation. Fernando explained that he was (paraphrasing) "We are asking people to sign a petition to get Chris Yonker fired. He calls Mexican people 'scum.' I am Mexican and I don't feel like I am 'scum'. " The young man turned away and continued on his way toward the monument.

The young man Fernando had been talking to was, in fact, Yonker. end of article



Recently, I received an email from the AAUP addressing invited speakers at university campuses. Although the topic dealt with outsiders coming in to speak with university students, Cary Nelson's comments seem relevant to what is happening at OU: "Revulsion at ideas or fear of them is understandable, but ideas are best answered with thought and conversation, not with censorship. That is nowhere more true than at a college or university."


"The young man Fernando had been talking to was, in fact, Yonker."
No way! That is a riot. I'd like to read this article... the link in the post links to the current article and not the old. Any way you can post some excerpts?
I liked this post- any updates?