by Sarah Willson
The last thing I ever want to do as editor is offend someone. Whether it be with language, pictures or video, I will always strive to be as sensitive as I can to those who read our weekly content.
Like most people, I understand that the childhood chant “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is not necessarily always true. However, censorship, especially when it comes to the news, can be dangerous.
My first week as editor, I already found myself trying to make the decision of whether or not to include the graphic and cringe-worthy content that involved Theater Professor Joshua Perlstein, who is now in the process of being “dismissed” by the university.
The dozens of pages of the spine-chilling interactions he had with former students were enough to make anyone feel sick. Ultimately, I decided to run a majority of the content uncensored. Though not an easy decision, the allegations that spanned over a decade, nine-month-long investigation and the countless number of survivors that came forward warranted the stone cold truth.
It is not fair to anyone, especially those intentionally picking up a newspaper with the intention of obtaining unbiased information, to have a skewed view of the truth. People have a right to know no matter how ugly or uncomfortable something may be. This is especially true when it comes to quotes.
I am still angered by the fact that the 2016 Access Hollywood video featuring Donald Trump and his “grab ’em by the pussy” remarks were censored by so many media outlets. Though vulgar and cruel, it was a statement made by someone who would eventually go on to become the president of the United States. His comments were outrageous, but that’s half the reason I believe they shouldn’t have ever been bleeped out in the first place. Had his words been censored by everyone, it may have never gotten the shock-worthy reaction it was intended to.
The same goes for the recent Facebook comment made by former mayor and president of the New Britain Chamber of Commerce Tim Stewart. The sexist and uncalled for comment referred to the Democratic Congresswomen wearing white during the State of the Union in commemoration of the Women’s Suffrage Movement as “Bitches in heat.” Most media outlets resorted to covering up Stewart’s comment. Like The Recorder, the New Britain Herald did not. For that, I commend them. After all, the public has a right to know how he truly feels about Democratic women.
Despite the majority of times where censorship is okay, there are times where the covering up of a word or image is necessary. For example, even in a direct quote, I would never dream of printing the “n-word” or any other derogatory slur. Though I will never be able to fully grasp the pain behind that word and so many others, I understand that some things are just too horrific or triggering to print. Again, the goal of an editor is never to offend or hurt someone, but rather to speak the truth.
But above all, I believe that, more often times than not, censorship is dangerous. If something is censored, chances are it’s giving the reader or viewer a rose-colored perspective of something that was never intended to be pretty in the first place. It’s not okay for someone else to decide what is okay and what isn’t okay for someone to see.
Sarah Willson is Editor-in-Chief of The Recorder, the student newspaper of Central Connecticut State University. This piece ran as an Editor’s Column on February 19, 2019.