In part one of a two-part broadcast report from Fond du Lac High School, the “officially approved” video story here outlines the main concerns associated with Cardinal Columns “Rape Joke” story. The principal, Jon Wiltzius, talks briefly about his thoughts pertaining to the new policy, getting the OK from rapists before running rape stories and how rights are rights but that doesn’t mean he wants you talking about them.
On why the policy came into play:
“There was clear belief that there needed to be or needs to be some level of guidlines developed for the building principal and superintendent to be able to just provide oversight on what items are being published…”
Here’s one of those cases where passive voice saves the day. Notice that there’s no sense that he thought it or that the superintendent came down to say, “We need to do this.” Instead, passive voice allows for a “it just sort of happened” approach. It also gives him the ability to false-front this one by making it sound like lots of people were clamoring for this and he just kind of gave in.
On the Rape Joke article and how he really doesn’t plan to censor:
“I also think there were some potentially questionable pieces of wording in there that maybe didn’t have to be and that’s where a guideline like this can where if I can see that it before it goes out I can try to help and say can you just tweak this a little so that it’s not so edgy or abrasive to some.”
First and foremost, if this interview he gave is any indication of his grasp of the English language, he’s the last guy on Earth I’d want trying to “just tweak” anything anyone ever writes. Second, and more importantly, he’s creating a warped sense of reailty here by portraying the policy as a set of guidelines and suggestions. Read the policy: It gives him (and the superintendent) unfettered rights to read and restrain content they don’t like. Thus, it’s not a guideline. It’s a law. Failing to abide by this new policy leads to penalties. Furthermore, the way he is portraying the enforcement of the policy is disingenuous as well. A suggestion is when my wife says, “I think we should eat out tonight.” A policy is, “Pay your property taxes or the state takes your house.” If his suggestions lacked the full control provision outlined by that policy, the students would have the right to agree or disagree. They don’t have that right, thus whatever he says is not a suggestion, regardless of how he couches it. It’s, “Do it or else.”
On requiring people to get permission from people accused of crimes to run stories about those crimes:
“My responsibility is yes, both alleged victims … and alleged perpetrators… they both have rights.”
Reason number 912,351 not to let this guy near your publication. NO CREDIBLE NEWS OUTLET GETS THE PERMISSION OF PEOPLE ACCUSED OF CRIMES TO RUN STORIES ON THOSE INCIDENTS. There’s an ethical issue that relates to whether journalists are morally obligated to attempt to speak to people accused of crimes. That’s different than a right for an accused criminal to tell a news outlet, “No, you can’t write about the murder I’m accused of commiting.” Failing to understand that is kind of a big deal.
On the article that told students they have the right not to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance:
“Do people have the right that were articulated in the article? Yeah, but we ask that it be done in a professional, respectful manner.”
Here’s the biggest problem with the entire issue pertaining to this policy in a nutshell. Wiltzius says, point blank, that there was nothing libelous, erroneous or otherwise misleading about the article. In fact, it outlines a pretty simple and well-known rule of law. However, he didn’t like the fact that the paper published it because then that information would be out there and that people might actually take advantage of those rights. Instead, he would have probably cut this out of the paper because he didn’t like it. THAT’S THE CORE OF CENSORSHIP: I DON’T LIKE IT SO YOU CAN’T SEE IT. With that in mind, I wouldn’t trust this guy any farther than I could throw him when it comes to his earlier speech on how he would “just tweak” things here and there, even if I were OK with the principle of said tweaking.
To be fair to Wiltzius, he’s a damned sight better than Superintendent James Sebert, who while taking credit for building this fine plan, refused to talk about it and deferred all questions to his fall guy principal.