Baylor Lariat sticks to principles amidst controversy
POSTEDAugust 20, 2004
In a time of national censorship and “patriotic” submissiveness, I applaud the Baylor Lariat’s recent controversial editorial.
The Feb. 27 editorial defended San Francisco officials’ actions in providing marriage licenses to gay couples. It comes as no surprise that the conservative Baylor administration took offense to the stance.
Baylor University is a private institution and The Lariat, the student newspaper, is produced by the university. The Lariat editorial board’s public position exemplifies the rights protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution and as a member of another student publication, I agree with their actions.
The Lariat editorial said that considering the Constitutional right of “equal protection under the law,” gay couples should be afforded the same legal rights as heterosexual married couples. The editorial cited the disadvantages couples face when denied the legal benefits of marriage.
The editorial went on to say that, “like many heterosexual couples, many gay couples share deep bonds of love, some so strong they’ve persevered years of discrimination for their choice to cohabitate with and date one another.”
But in a response to the editorial by Baylor President Robert Sloan, Jr., the above statement, “comes dangerously close to violating University policy” which forbids advocating any type of sexuality contrary to the teachings of the Bible.
As a student publication at a private institution rather than a public one, the potential repercussions that violating university policy entails are much greater. The school has the ability to close down the paper and prevent it from ever existing again. It can expel the students responsible for the article and take action against the management or operating board for allowing the publication of the editorial.
With that in mind, the stance for gay marriage taken by The Lariat editorial team is that much more significant.
True, it may seem that they aimed a gun at their foot and narrowly missed.
That risk, however, makes the article all the more meaningful. If a paper simply prints only university-sanctioned viewpoints, then it becomes little more than a public relations tool for the administration.
Having editorial freedom as a student publication is a right, but in light of the controversy at Baylor, it is also a privilege. Rights that are not exercised tend to disappear. The Lariat’s bravery in standing up for their First Amendment right helps protect the freedom of speech for all university publications.