Cardinal Columns: The Rubber meets the Censor

It’s been about a month since media outlets from coast to coast started eviscerating the Fond du Lac school system for its treatment of the student press at the high school. T anvi Kumar’s piece on “The Rape Joke”highlighted the way in which students in her school treat the concept of sexual assault like a running joke. It is a great read that demonstrated what students can do if given the chance to take charge of their own First Amendment rights.

The administration has been playing “Armadillo Defense” to this point, hunkering down, taking the beating and hoping eventually people will tire of this. In some ways, they probably are right. Journalists are taught to chase the story. When the story is no longer running, they find something else to chase. The story arc for this one piece has pretty much ended.

That said, it’s about to gear up again, because the Cardinal Columns publication hit the principal’s desk this week. According to several sources, it’s about 40 pages and “really deep.” I’m assuming that means very few stories the administration would view as “good news” and more of what we would call “reality.”

Principal Jon Wiltzius is in an untenable position right now. Based on what I’ve heard, I get the sense that his boss (James Sebert) was the one who decided this censorship approach was a good idea. That said, Sebert put Wiltzius in place as the censor, which forces him to go against the wishes of his own faculty, many of whom signed a petition asking the school board to rescind the rules on prior review and prior restraint.

If Wiltzius lets the issue go untouched, he pisses off his boss.

If Wiltzius changes things in the issue, he pisses off almost everyone else.

Still, the issue is sitting on his desk and no one knows what will happen next. The school board will next meet on Monday, but there is no sense this will be resolved at this meeting. The best guess is that they might discuss this in June after the school year ends (Part II of the “Armadillo Defense” is wait until no one is looking before trying to do something half-assed).

In the mean time, for a school district that didn’t want a story on the realities of rape floating around the school, things are about to get really real.