Page 4

Viewpoint

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2008 • PAGE 4

TECHNICIAN

{OUR VIEW}

Free speech protects anti-abortion display THE ISSUE:

The N.C. State chapter of Students for Life invited Justice for All to place a large display in the Brickyard with graphic images of aborted fetuses.

OUR OPINION:

The Students for Life have every right to display graphic photos, and any protesters should respect freedom of speech.

THE SOLUTION:

Students opposed to the Brickyard display should use their right to free speech and protest instead of demanding censorship.

S

tudents for Life invited Justice for All, an organization seeking to increase public opposition to abortion, to set up a display in the Brickyard. The 20-foot-tall, 40-foot-wide display contained graphic images of aborted fetuses, which may have disturbed some people. While the images were extremely graphic, the Students for Life had every right to display these photos. In the interests of free speech, there is no reason why these photos should be taken down. Sarah Hardin, a sophomore in communication and events coordinator for the N.C. State chapter of Students for Life, said the

The unsigned editorial is the opinion of the members of Technician’s editorial board excluding the news department and is the responsibility of the editor-in-chief.

display is supposed to be graphic and disturbing. She said the intent behind the photos of aborted fetuses is meant to grab people’s attention and inform them abortions are not simply terminated pregnancies. Hardin said the displays are not intended to incite heated debate and confrontation. She said Justice for All specifically trains the volunteers working at the display to encourage a calm, reasonable dialogue about abortion. Hardin also said having the displays in a more controlled environment would limit the

message, and the overall goal is for a transparent discussion of the issues. There is no basis for moving or taking down the display. Yes, the images are graphic — but if antiabortion groups wish to shock people with disturbing images of aborted fetuses, they have every right to do so. If students are concerned about possible biases from having only a one-sided display in the Brickyard, then they should stop complaining and start working. Everyone has a right to free speech, and anyone with a permit may

display or say what they wish in the Brickyard. Demanding the University remove or censor the Justice for All’s graphic display is not legal. Hardin said the Students for Life would not protest any display or demonstration from prochoice supporters. If the goal is a real, reasonable discussion about abortion or any other controversial subject, then removing the Brickyard display is not the way to get there. Stop calling for moving the images to a more controllable place or censoring the photos due to their graphic nature. Go out, make your own display and make your point.

{

Fixing the burden of proof

I

t’s assumed in American criminal law the burden of proof is on the prosecution, and the standard necessary to find someone guilty is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” That’s a foundation of the American lega l s y stem, which exists to ensure as few errors as possible and that an innocent person is Benton Sawrey not convicted Senior Staff Columnist of a criminal charge on the basis of an assumption or a capricious interpretation of the evidence. So if this is the standard for the United State of America and most other major western democracies why isn’t it good enough for N.C. State’s Office of Student Conduct? The University’s Code of Conduct provides for a moving burden of proof, and the most basic and common standard is set at 51 percent, or “more l i kely than not.” That’s a scary thought — before you even go into the office the cards are stacked against you. The University’s behavioral conduct system doesn’t even approach being labeled a true judicial system. Yo u’r e e xpected to admit guilt, accept your punish ment a nd pander to the administrator in hopes of showing progress toward achieving a higher goal of perfection. There is really no chance at innocence, regardless of the case you present. A single individual has an almost supreme right to arbitrarily declare that you or your organization is guilty of whatever charge. Worse, a student has very little recourse for an appeal unless it’s a violation of the very vaguely defined procedures outlined in the code of conduct. Fundamentally, the entire judicial process is flawed and puts the power of decision in one person’s hands. As much as Paul Cousins, director of Student Conduct, believes whoever were to hear the case with proper training would agree with his decision is almost

an absurdly preposterous statement. With such a flimsy standard and the nature of human beings to interpret things differently, there’s almost no way that someone could take a case of conflicting evidence with no clear guilt established and determine whether someone is innocent or guilty on a consistent basis. The idea that this is the basis of our conduct system is frightening. There really isn’t much more that can be done to change the burden of proof. I’ve written about it since I’ve been with Technician, and Chief Justice Lock Whiteside made that the cornerstone of his campaign the past two elections. The Student Senate passed resolutions urging a reform of the code of conduct with no real results from the administration. The administration seems reluctant in general to change the burden of proof for whatever reason — but I won’t speculate. So rather than the traditional call for a change of the burden of proof here’s anot her proposal of a way to make the Code of Conduc t more palatable to the students — open up a more broadly defined appeals process. As stated above, the current basic appellate process goes solely to the administration on the basis of a procedural violation. Open it up instead to an appeal of the decision administrators have made. Let students appeal on the basis that there was not enough evidence necessary for a conviction Perhaps students can even appeal the punishment itself— whether or not it was unnecessarily tough or fit the violation. Regardless, the system needs to be reformed, but the situation has gotten to a point where it isn’t realistic to change the nature of a system. Instead, it’d be productive to establish a new check and balance of our fundamentally flawed burden of proof.

IN YOUR WORDS

}

What did you think of the anti-abortion display in the Brickyard? BY DAVID MABE

Volleyball’s head coach Charita Stubbs looks forward to her first season counting her ACC wins on two hands.

Jaclyn Browning sophomore, biology

Phil Hursey, junior in biochemistry

{

“You’re expected to admit guilt, accept your punishment and pander to the administrator in hopes of showing progress toward achieving a higher goal of perfection.”

Send Benton your thoughts on the burden of proof to letters@ technicianonline.com.

CAMPUS FORUM

}

HOW TO SUBMIT Letters must be submitted before 5 p.m. the day before publication and must be limited to 250 words. Contributors are limited to one letter per week. Please submit all letters electronically to viewpoint@technicianonline.com

EDITOR’S NOTE Letters to the editor are the individual opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Technician staff or N.C. State University. All writers must include their full names and, if applicable, their affiliations, including years and majors for students and professional titles for University employees. For verification purposes, the writers must also include their phone numbers, which will not be published.

Don’t post suspects’ photos I am a sophomore here at NCSU and I read this paper as much as possible. Usually I skip past the stuff that doesn’t interest me, but I had to stop at the rape story on Friday. I didn’t stop because it freaked me out or I was concerned about safety around campus at 3:30 am, but because you, the Technician, put a picture of a suspect in the paper. From what I understand of our law, it is innocent until proven guilty and prohibits public slander. How can you as a student run newspaper bypass these laws for “a juicy story?” I think that action makes you look bad as a student media organization. And then to have his full name without any sort of evidence to support your reasoning besides that he was seen in the area? Disgusting. John O’Neal sophomore, criminology

Reconsider placement of disturbing images I was appalled at the display in the Brickyard today. I realize the University has an obligation to

support freedom of speech, but I was really upset by today’s gruesome display. Also, I don’t think that in front of the Atrium was the best place to put the larger than life, very unappetizing assortment of pictures and opinionated statements. I think the University should take into consideration how offensive the displays are that are being allowed in the Brickyard. Hopefully tomorrow I can walk to class in the morning without having to dodge rock wall sized advertisements backing ultra-conservative opinions. Ashley Griffin sophomore, psychology

then where does it end? Where is the protection of students and their interests? N.C. State has no right to make its students feel so attacked, especially without giving them the option to avoid these types of displays. I believe the University owes the student body and the public that traverses this campus the right to a peaceful education and an accepting environment, both of which were effortlessly forgone in the permittance of this repulsive display. Amanda Brown sophomore, biological engineering

Don’t force students to see antiabortion display

Perdue is the right choice

I wanted to comment on the gruesome array of images on display in the Brickyard. I was appalled to walk out of my morning class and be greeted by the graphic anti-abortion monument that has been constructed in the Brickyard. It is an insult to this campus and an insensitive, indecent slap in the face to the students. To have no counter opinion on display along side this blunt, “’F’ you, pro-choice advocates,” is an essential admission by the campus that, for whatever reason, be it poverty, unstable home, education, health of the mother and/or child, etc., abortion is, in all cases, a savage and bloody act. Being a university with a diverse student body and an array of opinions, this kind of display which is, for me among others, personally offensive and absolutely disgusting should not be so carelessly thrown up in the Brickyard. At the VERY least make it an exhibit, invite other opinions to comment, and allow those who CHOOSE to come and see it, come and see it. DO NOT throw this obscene fixture into the Brickyard where it cannot be avoided, force students to stumble upon it, and then, be so infuriatingly shaken by it, that they feel they must avoid classes nearby in order to not see it. This is not a peaceful statement of opinions — this is an insult to the entire campus and a verbal and graphic assault on its students. This display is akin to allowing a race-hate group the liberty of posting violent slayings of the people they oppose, in ten foot by 13 foot images no less! If the University is to allow this,

“I didn’t get to see it, but I heard from a lot of people that it was really inappropiate, no matter what your belief is.”

I appreciate your thoughts in Monday’s Technician regarding Perdue being more qualified then McCrory. I feel you touched on the main issues that an informed voter needs to know. I am an intern with the Perdue Campaign, and I can assure that Lieutenant Governor Perdue is the only candidate running who is dedicated and qualified to lead this great state. She cares deeply about education, understands the economy and wants to make North Carolina the best state in the nation. Having an opportunity to actually meet her and spend time with her, I can argue on her behalf as being truly personable, caring, and ready to take NC to a new level. Under her leadership as governor, we will have a better state. As you pointed out, she is the most qualified and most importantly has proven herself as lieutenant governor. She helped save our military bases, ended tobacco use in schools, raised teacher salaries and has fought to win a higher minimum wage, just to name a few. Perdue is the only candidate who deserves to be North Carolina’s governor and will make an everlasting impact. As you mentioned, voters, especially college voters need to be informed on all candidates. However, it is safe to say that Perdue is the right choice for governor. Alisha B. Graham junior, political science

“No matter what you believe on the topic, it was offensive — to anybody.” Brian Smith sophomore, biology

“It was pretty sick. They shouldn’t have put it so close to the Atrium.” Matt Richter freshman, environmental engineering

“It’s more noble for women to carry the child and then give it up for adoption, but I don’t think women should be harrassed for having an abortion. People should mind their own business.” Marlee Berckmans freshman, anthropology

This week’s poll question:

Will you take advantage of early voting near N.C. State? • Yes • No • I don’t care because it doesn’t affect me

Visit www.technicianonline. com to cast your vote. Editor-in-Chief

Saja Hindi

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Technician (USPS 455-050) is the official student newspaper of N.C. State University and is published every Monday through Friday throughout the academic year from August through May except during holidays and examination periods. Opinions expressed in the columns, cartoons, photo illustrations and letters that appear on Technician’s pages are the views of the individual writers and cartoonists. As a public forum for student expression, the students determine the content of the publication without prior review. To receive permission for reproduction, please write the editor. Subscription cost is $100 per year. A single copy is free to all students, faculty, staff and visitors to campus. Additional copies are $0.25 each. Printed by The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C., Copyright 2008 by North Carolina State Student Media. All rights reserved.

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