Apology needed

On Jan. 16, 1992, The Northern Star ran an editorial by Wes Swietek in which he defended the Star’s decision to run an advertisement last semester that denied that the holocaust ever took place. Swietek argued that the Star had the right to run the ad because of the First Amendment to our Constitution protects the freedom of the press. Also, he argued that the Star had a duty to print the ad because in his words, “an inquisitive, totally free press is the best safeguard against the kind of evil represented by the holocaust.” According to Swietek, anyone who disagrees with him is repeating the mistakes made by the press fifty years ago when the press failed to cover the holocaust.

Swietek is wrong when he claims that the First Amendment gives papers the right to print propaganda. The First Amendment does not guarantee newspapers the right to print lies. Libel and slander are not protected by the First Amendment or any other amendment of the Constitution. The Star, like any paper in this country, is supposed to print accurate information. When a newspaper knowingly prints false information, it has turned itself into a propaganda sheet.

Swietek, incredibly, does not agree. He claimed that “the ludicrous assertions in the ad are insignificant.” Insignificant? How can anyone claim that running an ad on a Jewish holiday that denies the systematic annihilation of six million Jews by Nazis is insignificant? How can anyone who claims to be a journalist say that his paper will print any lie at any time?

I agree with Swietek when he argued that democracies need a free and inquisitive press, but he and his fellow editors at the Star are the ones repeating the mistakes of the past by blindly printing Nazi propaganda.

The printing of that vile ad by the editors of the Star as a serious mistake. The entire editorial board of the Star should apologize to its readers or they should resign.

Glenn Rodden

Graduate Student