By Dominique Blain
There are two basic types of communication found in nature: that produced through reflex, and that produced through reflection.
In the past, it has generally been acknowledged that this distinction separated man from beast.
For instance, when a deer lifts its wee white tail up to alert surrounding deer to an intruder, it is acting through reflex. The deer didn’t think of its previous experiences, consider alternatives, mull it all and promptly decide to lift its tail. The deer heard something and the tail shot up, the same way a human’s leg shoots up when the doc taps it with that little hammer.
Still, recent studies point towards consciousness and strategic thought in certain animals. Today, the communication distinction between man and animal is hotly debated in the coolest anthropological circles.
This is not the topic of this editorial.
Rather, under scrutiny is communication and action on the third floor of the Student Campus Centre, where your various elected officials toil and trouble. It is becoming glaringly apparent that a growing trend of acting on reflex rather than on reflection is happening upstairs.
I am giving them — Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) and Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson (CESAR) — the benefit of the doubt, of course. I would hate to find out that their ongoing attempts at censoring campus newspapers is a product of their logic.
The first obvious instance, of course, concerns yours truly, the Eyeopener. Following our yearly parody last year, the brains at RSU jump-started and jerked off a letter accusing our editorial board of the vilest of hate crimes. Now, I have never been a fan of our parody issue. This particular one, which parodied the National Post, was especially unimpressive in many respects. It was over-the-top, slightly juvenile and definitely offensive. Key word? Parody. Also, for good measure: the National Post.
The people up top knew us personally and knew no one here holds the beliefs presented in the issue. They also knew of parody and the fact that it is a form of expression protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Clearly, they wrote the offensive and libelous letter we received that week in as much of a reflexive manner as a deer lifts the white tuft over its bum hole.
But the crux of the trend is the latest knee-jerk reaction that has nothing to do with the Eyeopener. This is about NightViews, a paper published and financed by CESAR. I’m sure you read the article about it.
No doubt, the way CESAR fired two editors was pretty low: instead of opening the issue to discussion, CESAR muffled it and showed no respect for the dismissed individuals. It also showed no respect when it refused to explain to the rest of the editorial board the rationale behind their decisions.
More importantly, however, is the last editorial written in July by the quitting editorial staff and entitled “NightViews staff resigns.” It’s mostly important because you never got to read it. Because the head honchos at CESAR never distributed it. What kind of organization pulls an editorial because it doesn’t like it?
That would be the same kind of institution that creates a board to overview a newspaper’s content. Analogously: what happens when a government decides to have a say in what makes it onto the presses? The world screams censorship. I am screaming censorship.
Since we are dedicated to the flow of information at Ryerson, the Eyeopener is publishing the editorial online, here at TheEyeopener.com. Incidentally, RSU wanted to establish a third-party review of theEyeopener’s content last year. Won’t happen.
A true newspaper has a group of editors calling the shots and standing up for it. Yes, editors err — and frequently at that. But that doesn’t mean they’re bad people.
Perhaps erroneously, I believed that universities were an optimal venue for such erring voices. Institutions of higher learning are deemed as such not for the courses they offer, but for the environment of open discussion and critical analysis they foster.
Making a mistake — or creating a touchy situation — is providing an opportunity for discussion and growth. The dears upstairs keep falling into the trap that shutting down and shutting up are the optimal way to work through problems.
Oh, and by the way… they do this as your representatives.