The editor-in-chief of the Georgetown University’s student newspaper, The Hoya, has had a rough week. David Jung Wong, a sophomore from Hollywood, Florida, fired Robert Swope, a conservative columnist, for having angered campus feminists with his weekly op-eds. Wong was unhappy with Swope’s unrepentant politically incorrect views and took it upon himself to rid the paper of its token conservative columnist. Wong’s decision has been the subject of discussion in a number of national publications, almost exclusively by intellectually diverse and liberty-loving female authors. Cultural critic Camille Paglia, libertarian intellectual Wendy McElroy, Jewish World Review columnist Michelle Malkin, National Review‘s Kathryn Lopez, and the Washington Times‘s Andrea Billups, have all torn into The Hoya for shamelessly silencing Swope.
Proving Justice Louis Brandeis’s famous dictum: “sunlight is the best disinfectant,” Georgetown alum Manuel Miranda, president of the Cardinal Newman Society for Catholic Higher Education, wasted no time in publicly exposing Wong’s reprehensible decision. Being a private paper at a private college, the duly elected editors of The Hoya have the right to publish what they see fit. On the other hand, they must live with the consequences of their decisions. In this instance, Wong will carry this case with him if he chooses a career in journalism or in any other field where openness to pluralistic and dissenting voices is a valued quality.
Wong is not the only Hoya editor who has disgraced Georgetown and given journalism a bad name. The Hoya‘s previous editors have shown an insufferable disregard for the importance of freedom of the press. In October of 1998, when 2,000 copies of Georgetown’s conservative student journal, The Georgetown Academy, were stolen, The Hoya published an editorial applauding the theft and thanking the “thoughtful soul” who censored the “pathetic little rag.”
FIRE is no stranger to the politically correct orthodoxy that runs the student newspapers at Georgetown. In October of 1999, FIRE contracted with Georgetown’s other newspaper, the Voice, to publish an advertisement informing Georgetown students about their legal rights of privacy in the face of Georgetown’s intrusive freshman orientation. Then Voice Editor-in-Chief Garrett Therolf received FIRE’s advertisement and FIRE’s bank check. Therolf and the board of the paper rejected the ad citing regulations allowing the newspaper to reject ads that violated the “intention and spirit” of Georgetown, ads considered “grossly unjust or inconsistent with the conscience of Georgetown as a Jesuit educational institution.” In a telephone conversation soon thereafter Therolf informed FIRE that the Voice had “an editorial history in favor of multiculturalism and sensitivity training.” The new Voice editor, Jeff Jarosch, has informed us that he would not run the FIRE ad either. Asked about the controversy at The Hoya, Jarosch stated that it is unlikely that a similar controversy would ever occur at the Voice: “I can almost guarantee you that Swope would never be elected to write for this paper. It is my feeling we would not elect someone like him.” To his credit, Jarosch did say he would consider a one-time submission from Swope. Swope told FIRE that he plans to take up Jarosch’s offer. We shall see.
The politically correct journalists of Georgetown insult not only their readers’ intelligence and the standards of vibrant journalism, but they betray the tradition, central to Catholic higher education, of both philosophical liberty and the importance of disputation to critical mind.