The suspension of two editors on the board of the University of Illinoiss Daily Illini as a result of their decision to print cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad is cause for serious concern about the extent of freedom of the press.
Factual questions about the suspension aside, the idea that a publisher might suspend a student editor merely for printing offensive images is frightening. Whether we support the choice of these editors, freedom of the press is sacrosanct in the West. The media has the right to publish anything it deems newsworthy, whether or not it offends public opinion. In this country, no newspaper editor should ever be forced to self-censor for fear of punishment. The precedent set by the removal of the Illini editors may well make that fear reasonable for the staffs of campus papers. We find this unacceptable.
The circumstances surrounding their decision is yet unclear, but there is only one side any student journalist can take in this debate. We unequivocally support the right of any student newspaper that chooses to print the cartoons of Muhammad.
We have chosen not to publish the cartoons. We think our primary responsibility as a newspaper is to provide news that adds to our communitys discourse. Reprinting these images is not essential to serve these goals. The existence of the freedom of the press does not necessitate a moral imperative to use it.
It is our official policy to print material as the editorial board deems necessary, regardless of whether the material can be found offensive.