Letter: Pappas’ jabs obstruct his message

By and

Editor:

This letter is in response to Nicholas Pappas’ column (“Stand up for the Jena six,” Sept. 14). I was referred to this column by a news headline from the main forums page for the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association. The column was referenced on this particular website because it made a direct comment about lacrosse. However, after reading the entire piece I have several serious concerns.

I understand that the purpose of a student newspaper is to allow members of the student body to report newsworthy information to their peers. However, this does not mean that student journalists should be allowed to disseminate patently false information and make derogatory remarks toward other groups. I am disappointed that some of these comments were not regulated by you, the editor, because they paint an extremely poor picture of The Daily Utah Chronicle staff. Censorship is not appropriate and student opinions should not be silenced, especially when the individual’s intent does appear to be motivating others towards a positive goal, but misinformation and inflammatory remarks are not appropriate for mass publication.

The two specific lines of Pappas’ article that raise concern for me are as follows:

1) “Anyone who has taken a law class knows battery requires use of a ‘deadly weapon.'”

This statement is entirely false and has the potential to imbue your readers with an incorrect understanding of the law. Battery, as it is legally defined in the United States, is willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another; intentional and unlawful touching or striking of another person against the will of the other; or unlawfully and intentionally causing bodily harm to an individual.

2) “Have you heard of the Duke lacrosse team? I’m sure you have. They were the rowdy stick-wielders who allegedly raped a prostitute and got away with it.”

While this comment might have been utilized in the attempt to highlight the media’s disproportionate coverage of “white boys gone wild,” it is nevertheless unnecessarily aggressive and potentially slanderous. As a member of the lacrosse community and as a student of the law, I am concerned and disappointed with this comment. Implying that there is some manner of truth to the allegations against the three young men from the Duke lacrosse team who were involved in that scandal, and who were entirely exonerated on all charges, is bordering on journalistic dishonesty. Those individuals did not “allegedly rape a prostitute and get away with it;” they were accused of serious felony offenses, but intense legal efforts proved the allegations to be completely fabricated.

I apologize for the length of this letter, but I hope that it can be helpful to you and your staff. I feel that it is important for you to know that you have given your seal of approval to and published a piece of news media that has been very poorly received by an extremely large body of individuals who have no affiliation with your university.

Shane MorrisonUniversity of Arizona Men’s Lacrosse Captain