Monday, February 16, 2009

The (Relative) Innocence of Youth
After printing stories detailing the casual sexual encounters of students, the Stevenson High School newspaper must now submit to new restrictions that have drawn fire from parents and critics concerned about censorship.
Oh, to be young and foolish. To think that your thoughts - no matter how foolish and ill conceived - deserve to be published. And if not to acclaim, at least without restriction. As uppity as I may have been iin my callow years, I did not think that it was at all unfair that the yearbooks I worked on had a faculty adviser who not only gave helpful guidance but was also there to pull the plug on any stupid ideas that came along. And stupid ideas always come along.

Things were different by the time I had young people in our local high school. I will limit my comments since foaming at the mouth is unattractive and deleterious to the keyboard. Let's just say that I wasn't pleased to see $40 go towards a yearbook filled with clumsy double-entendres scattered among the creepy single entendres. Was there any type of adult oversight? Any?

So the young journalists of Stephenson High School are at a pivotal point. They can go on whining about censorship and having their creativity constricted. Or they may wish to reconsider their semi-conflation of the medium and the message. Do they really have something to say.? Or do they just like to cause a ruckus? Or does the message amount to a f*** you to the parentals using the facilities and provisions of the good people of school district 125?

Here's what you do, kids: As the saying goes, "it's a free country." If you think what you have to say is important - really, truly important in a journalistic sense - scrape up your spare change and pay to publish and distribute your thoughts. If your idea of journalism is to be edgy on someone else's dime, this is what your school would call a teachable moment.

("Prior review is camouflaged censorship," said Randy Swikle, Illinois director of the Journalism Education Association.

You don't have children, do you, Mr. Swikle?)

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