Editorial: Free Speech is a Sacred Right

This week we’ve published stories about the local feedback of the Egyptian revolts and national upheaval, and also about WC students’ experiences at the AWP conference. Two seemingly opposite stories on both topic and significance, but there are more similarities than strikes the eye. While Egyptian citizens were cut off from phone and internet access, our students celebrated the power of the written word in Washington D.C. And Elm reporters were able to write and print stories covering each one, labeled with a proud byline.

We take the written word for granted far too often. The argument that our nation is decreasingly in literacy is nearly stale but alarmingly true. Today’s Kindles and iPads make reading off a computer screen a normal activity that occupies our commutes and brief spans of boredom. We can readily spew out sentences on Facebook or Twitter, our dreadfully short attention spans gobbling up the sentences bookended by lols. Don’t just use your voice to raise your opinion above the humdrum of the classroom, but use it for compassion. Use it for learning. And use that voice to ask the so-called stupid questions in class.

This semester I implore you to speak with conviction. Lose all the colloquial “I dunno” and “maybe” from your speech, and believe in what you say. Whether it is an opinion at lunchtime in the dining hall, arguing politics over a cup of coffee, or in papers that we all grudgingly write at three in the morning, say each word and believe it. Here at The Elm, it’s our job to deliver words that speak the news, speak the truth. And not only do we want to spread the word for the campus, but we also want to spread a message, between the lines if you will.

The Elm is just one vehicle of our gift of speech on campus; we headline this gift in bold, black letters. And now I urge you to use yours.

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