The Lariat recently published a column by sports writer Jeffrey Swindoll titled “Politically correct isn’t always right.” The content in the column has been called inflammatory, hate speech and even stupid by various people, especially on social media. Letters in response to Swindoll’s column have reached numbers in the double digits. The Lariat has published several of these letters – two in the paper and five more online.
Although the column does not reflect the opinions of the Lariat, Student Publications Board or Baylor University, the decision to publish the column is currently under fire from several people who adamantly disagree with its content.
As the editor, I am not deaf to the criticisms the column brought. While it seems that a majority of people disagree with the column, I’ve also read comments that admit Swindoll has a right to his opinion. I’ve seen comments that are hateful toward Swindoll as well, which I find ironic considering many of these same people called his writing hateful.
My hope in moving forward with the discussion around this column is that instead of only criticism, it also leads to healthy conversation and debate. I received one letter to the editor that suggested a way to move forward with the discussion of this column. I quote the letter below from Amarillo alumnus Austin Tiffany.
“While I do hope the publishing of this article was a mistake, we should all focus now on what to do moving forward.
I would highly suggest inviting students of all faiths represented on Baylor’s campus write an editorial describing the values of their faith. Religious illiteracy is a dangerous, dangerous problem, and this would be a step in the right direction. In addition, I would recommend creating student discussion groups about faith, including students of all religions.
These are small but meaningful steps towards something constructive. The Lariat is now poised to lead in a way that builds a more united, tolerant and cohesive campus.”
I’ve read tweets and Facebook posts demanding a response to this column. Our response is this: While this column can rightfully be called inflammatory, it is a gateway to create constructive conversations. It is with this in mind that we now request submissions to the Lariat for publication. These submissions should be related to your religion – the misconceptions, stereotypes, how your religion relates to other faiths, etc. What aspect you take is up to you. Letters can be sent to email@example.com and should be between 300-400 words.
Regardless of whether you believe this column’s publication was wrong, name calling will not solve the underlying problems of the controversy that has developed. We are in a culture made up of people who have varying ideologies, so disagreements are going to happen.
Baylor University is a diverse community of people with different faiths and cultures. If we want to truly educate others on who we are as people, then we need to take opportunities like this to share our opinions with other people.
I know this simple request will be deemed an unacceptable response by some. However, I ask that now you apply the same logic to my request that many of you say you expected of Swindoll’s column.
Give it consideration and take a stand on what you view as correct or incorrect with regards to your religion.
The discussion can start with you.
Linda Wilkins is a senior journalism major from Tyrone, Ga. She is the editor-in-chief for the Lariat.