Peter Werner | Chicago Reader

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Re: “Let Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell write what she thinks about rape

As has been pointed out, this is not strictly speaking a First Amendment issue, as no one is calling for the government, police, or the courts to step in and silence, punish, or sue Mary Mitchell. That said, one could argue that there's a *free speech* issue here, as free speech is a broader issue that the strict confines of the First Amendment, and certainly non-state actors can be agents of censorship depending on the extent of their actions.

I absolutely believe that the tactic of "No Platforming" which has become increasingly popular among progressive is a censorship tactic, in that it seeks to pressure any and all venues to disallow someone to express their views, effectively silencing them. Does asking for someone to be dropped by a newspaper column rise to that level? If it doesn't involve chasing someone from venue to venue demanding the person be dropped, perhaps not, but nonetheless, asking someone to be penalized for their views does raise concerns, especially since demanding the pulling of speakers or dropping of published work seems to the the "go to" demand by those offended by the opinions of a speaker or writer.

That said, people have every right to be upset at the Sun-Times and their lack of response to Mary Mitchell's column after publishing it. I'm not sure to what degree Mitchell's position on the editorial board vetoes this, but Sun-Times should have issued a board editorial (not just a third-party op-ed) rebuking Mitchell's column. This would have sent a very strong message, and by not doing so, they are effectively standing by her horrible views, or at the very least, treating them as a minor enough foible that they don't have to comment on it. Their silence on such hateful words coming from someone they've given a platform to amounts to an apology, and for this, the Sun-Times should absolutely be taken to task.

2 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Peter Werner on 09/19/2015 at 9:42 PM

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