Well done Star

Your staff is to be applauded for the editorial, “Keep speech free,” which appeared in The Northern Star, Monday Sept. 27. Even though the specter of political correctness seems to have passed over Northern Illinois University for the time being, its chill has been felt. Two years ago, a former university president spearheaded an attempt to censor the Star over an advertisement. This past year, ill-informed students tried to thwart Star funding. Both of these attempts failed, as have many other in the past, but such zealots keep trying.

There was one minor factual error in the editorial. The case cited, >Village of Skokie v. National Socialist Party of America was decided by the Illinois Supreme Court, not the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court denied certiorari in the matter related case, Smith v. Collin, in 1978.

Interestingly, Justice Harry A. Blackmun wrote a dissent to Smith out of a concern that lower courts were apologizing for their decisions. As painful as the Skokie decision was, an earlier case called Beauharnis v. Illinois, which involved the distribution of racist literature in Chicago, or some of the recent situations here at Northern are, no one should have to apologize for tolerating free speech.

Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas once wrote that when all else was said and done about the United States, it would be our “experiment with freedom of expression” that would stand as our ultimate contribution to civilization. Hopefully, the same will be said of Northern Illinois University.

Richard Digby-Junger

Assistant Professor