It is the unfortunate privilege of the campus daily to provide an otherwise insignificant and quiet voice with a platform to pass his thoughts off as credible and authoritative. It is easy to suggest that every student on campus has a right to express their opinion; this is, after all, entirely true. The Daily Tar Heel, however, provided us with yet another example of extremely inept maintenance of their responsibilities in granting these platforms through their public forum.
Yash Shah’s letter concerning the allocation of funds to the Carolina Review demonstrates nothing but his complete ignorance of the manner in which Student Congress allocates student fee funds. The $3,616.15 given to the Review on Tuesday was done so as a part of the precedent followed to ensure all student publications receive adequate and equal funding, and it comes from revenue generated for the express purpose of enhancing the Carolina community, a part of which is the marketplace of ideas in which the Review participates. To demand an explanation of this is to grossly exaggerate the complexity of it; all magazines that apply for funds to Student Congress and that demonstrate their value as a student organization receive half of the issues they print in a year plus one. Like every other student group, they are subjected to an application and questioning, presumably to supply the precise “explanation” that you so boldly presume was not given.
The Carolina Review is the longest tenured magazine at UNC, having existed since 1993, and we are one of a few groups who work hard to promote an intellectual perspective that would otherwise be ignored. He committed a serious logical mistake in singling out the Review when we are subjected to equal scrutiny and receive equal funding to all other publications, revealing his implicit assumption that conservatism is itself illegitimate. Conservatism, after all, is the only thing that separates us from Blue & White, Bounce, and other magazines that I doubt he finds of insufficient value. He claims not to be curbing free speech, but he is essentially advocating for the suppression of a particular viewpoint! I stand by my claims regarding the BSM; comparing my criticism of them to his of us, mine was based on a debatable point, one which he could have chosen himself to argue. Instead he levied a baseless and ignorant attack.
There are many who will be inclined to judge my comments on the letter as a biased attempt at saving face for the Review, an indignant cry of oppression thought to be so typical of UNC conservatives. Allow me to elaborate. Yash Shah has every right to be heard. And in a balanced marketplace of ideas, I firmly believe that truth and objectivity win out over naive and indefensible accusations. The Daily Tar Heel, however, is not a government – it cannot violate free press – and it has a monopoly on dialogue at UNC, which carries no legal obligation in a free country, but it ought to carry an ethical one. Just as conservative media ought not to grant a microphone to those on our side who display blatant disregard for facts and proper debate, there is no inherent reason why the DTH has to or should publish a letter they receive which explicitly misrepresents the circumstances of its topic. The result of such a letter is not a victory for free expression, but rather an intentional dissemination of misrepresented accusations, from which ensues a campus dialogue based on those misrepresented facts. That is truly harmful of the principle of free expression, which seeks to discover truth. If Yash Shah wants people to hear his voice, he can publish his work himself; the DTH’s refusal to ought to have been a natural function of this truth discovery process.
The DTH forum exists to promote useful dialogue on campus; the last two editions lead me to seriously doubt how concerned they are with actually fulfilling this purpose. They printed a misinformed and baseless letter, and then chose to dominate the forum the next day with responses to a comically trivial and absurd column from Friday at the expense of publishing my chance at response. It is a dangerous problem that our campus has only the DTH has its source of knowledge and understanding of campus. If only we were liberated from the shackles of this domineering disaster of a newspaper to know true free expression.