Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bong Pictures

Regarding a controversy at a public university about the student newspaper printing an ad with a bong, a good, responsible-sounding policy says that the student newspaper can run any legal ad that it wants to. End of story. Unfortunately, many campuses try to restrict newspaper ads about alcohol and drugs.

Looking at the campus policy, it says absolutely nothing about regulating ads that deal with drugs. It does have a detailed series of restrictions on alcohol-related advertising for student groups (which I believe are unconstitutional, especially a ban on "discriminatory portrayals", but I object to the whole thing). However, the rules state that the student group putting in an ad is entirely responsible, not the newspaper.

The only possible restriction listed is a ban on student groups making "advertising agreements with alcohol beverage distributors/companies or their agents." Once again, I think this is unconstitutional, especially with regard to the student newspaper's choice of advertising.

Basically, the argument should be this: printing a picture of a bong in a newspaper isn't illegal. So it shouldn't be illegal in a student newspaper. Now, if the students on the newspaper want to adopt an advertising policy, they should be free to do that and an advisor can help. But I don't think it's the proper place for an advisor or the administration to try to push restrictions on freedom of the press on student newspapers.

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