LETTERS

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February 28, 2003

Letters to the Editor

Offensive advertising

To the Editor:

I never thought I'd be offended by an advertisement until I saw the anti-choice supplement stuck into each and every copy of the recent issue of The Chicago Maroon. The document equates abortion with the Nazi Holocaust, with racism in the United States, and contains on its flip side the caption "Pregnant? We can help..." and the tagline and Web site of a group of folks who illegally masquerade as reproductive health clinics while discouraging women from having abortions.

I'm not sure that I can stop reading your newspaper for the rest of my time at the University of Chicago, but unless this advertising campaign stops post haste, and the community receives some sort of apology, I'm certainly going to try.

Noah Millstone

Class of 2004

To the Editor:

I was appalled to open the February 25, 2003 Maroon to find a 12-page color glossy pamphlet that was purporting to be educational but was really a paid anti-choice advertisement. While many people probably tossed it aside along with the pizza coupons, I actually looked at it, and looked in the paper for a "balanced" advertisement by an organization that supported the rights of women to make choices about their bodies. It was my understanding that offering balance was a journalistic tenet.

The glossy piece, couched as a public service announcement, calls abortion an epidemic and attempts to educate as one might about cancer or a genetic disease. It uses shoddy and unproved claims to try and scare women. The research cited doesn't even appear in refereed journals.

Did anyone even read this before putting it out? Especially the section claiming that women who have been raped or suffered incest should not have abortions because the first event was traumatic enough! They even quote a woman who got pregnant when she was 12 years old via incest who had an abortion and now claims it was the wrong decision.

No one, especially not an educated student, takes the idea of abortion cavalierly. It is a serious decision to be made with loved ones and parents. Putting such a piece of yellow journalism in the school paper does not forward a balanced decision, it only scares and generates unwise reactions.

I'm disappointed in the ability of the Maroon to uphold even the most basic editorial standards. Maybe the revenue was just too much for your bottom line, but I am disgusted.

Sarah Puro

Harris School of Public Policy

Editor's Response

In response to criticism regarding the Maroon's decision to run the advertising insert entitled "The Silent Epidemic," we cannot offer an apology. The Maroon will not apologize for the political views of our advertisers, nor should we, except in cases where the views coincide with or promote racist or discriminatory viewpoints. It simply does not follow that the Maroon is guilty of "yellow journalism" because the opinions of our advertisers disagree with your own.

Accusing the Maroon of betraying its journalistic obligations because we allowed an advertiser to take out space in our newspaper for opinions that you may not agree with is reckless, and betrays a set of prejudices that are just as nefarious as any that you accuse the advertisement of holding. We have an obligation not to print advertisements that promote hatred of any person or group, for any reason. We chose not to run ads that the editorial staff finds in extreme violation of public standards of taste. I can understand how anyone might find the opinions in "A Silent Epidemic" unpleasant. But however distasteful this advertisement may be to an individual, the Maroon cannot suppress advertisements simply because we, or any number of our readers, find their content offensive, except in extreme cases.

Drawing conclusions regarding any journalistic outlet's editorial judgment based on the opinions of their advertisers is a dangerous step. While advertisements may occasionally contain biased information, this does not mean that the newspaper itself is biased. I understand the sentiments of those who are offended and offer this writing by way of explanation. The letters we received on the topic were thoughtful, but the Maroon cannot and should not apologize for the politics of "A Silent Epidemic."

Pete Beatty

Editor in Chief