MONDAY’S LETTERS: Arms and Israel, No ‘Hubbub’ at Hooper High

By: E&P Staff

In today’s letters, readers respond to Greg Mitchell’s column about the U.S. role as arms merchant in the Middle East, and a reader calls E&P’s coverage of the First Amendment controversy involving the staff of Viking News at Ocean County College “misleading.”


Arms and Israel

I liked [Greg Mitchell’s] piece on the significance of U.S. weapons provided to Israel. But it neded almost as though endorsing the idea that arming Israeli gives the US useful leverage to influence Israel (and so should continue).

Another way of looking at it would be to call for a stop to these arms sales as a means of gaining leverage — will you join the call for Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions against Israel

David Seddon
British Committee for Palestinian Universities (BRICUP)

What may be unacceptable to Human Rights Watch is fine with me; superfine. The Sixties ended on Dec. 31, 1969, Greg. You need to get over it.

Harry Eagar
Maui, Hawaii

Over the years why is there such an imbalance in seemingly all the media as to the fairness issue? Without exception it seems the full tilt of news favors Israel. This seems to have been the case almost since after WWII. I’m not siding with one or the other here, just asking about fairness. Is there some kind of Jewish hold on the media (advertisers)? I’m not a conspiracy sort of person but I do have to wonder in this case. It seems there is hardly ever any debate on the whole Middle East issue where it doesn’t totally tilt towards Israel.

Mike O’Connor

While searching for information on the JDAM, I found this in Greg Mitchell’s column: “If you think we should be proud of arming the assault on Lebanon’s infrastructure and civilian neighborhoods, fine.”

Yes. Thanks. I work in the arms industry, and Boeing has been doing great work with those things. I’ll remember to congratulate the people there the next time I see them.

James M. Hasik


On E&P’s Viking News Coverage

As a frequent visitor to the online edition of Editor and Publisher, and as one who values the excellent work of Greg Mitchell, I regret having to share my disappointment over your misleadingcoverage of the First Amendment controversy involving President Jon Larson and the staff of Viking News at Ocean County College, New Jersey.

The headline of the initial E&P report in late May, “Hubbub at ‘Hooper High,'” obscured the seriousness of the First Amendment and retaliation issues with the trite and deprecating alliterative tag. E&P eschewed belittling as “hubbub” the din following The New York Times’ publication of its report on the banking surveillance program, rightly labeling, in an E&P headline, the criticism coming from the editors of the WSJ and other quarters as “dangerous attacks.” The student editors of Viking News enjoy the same constitutional protections as The New York Times, and their struggle under a state of siege from college officials bent on influencing content deserves the same respect and concern you extend to the editors of The Times.

Judge Stanley Chesler, of the Federal District Court of New Jersey, made clear the high order of seriousness in the complaints of the Viking News editors, granting their motion for Preliminary Injunction on the reinstatement of newspaper advisor Karen Bosley. Unfortunately, your July 28, 2006 report on this ruling, “Judge Reinstates Advisor to N.J. Paper,” does not convey the enormity of this early decision in the case. Granting injunctive relief, as Judge Chesler wrote in the opinion, occurs only under “extraordinary circumstances,” since, among other requirements, the students must meet the exceedingly high standard of “likelihood of success”: “The Court is satisfied that the Plaintiffs here have demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits for their contention that the Defendants’ actions regarding Bosley’s removal as Student Newspaper Advisor for the Viking News was motivated by a desire to retaliate against the Paper for its expression of constitutionally protected views critical of the OCC administration.” The word “hubbub” does not appear in Judge Chesler’s 25-page Preliminary Injunction opinion.

The July 28 E&P article, furthermore, misleads readers on the conclusions in the fact-finding report of the Society of Professional Journalists. In reporting that the SPJ task force “took both sides to task,” the article suggests a balanced analysis assigning shared responsibility for the conflict. Were that so, the task force would not have called for the reinstatement of Karen Bosley as Viking News advisor and for her return to the journalism program “she has so tirelessly served.” In pointing out that her removal was primarily about “establishing and maintaining control at the college,” that task force asserts that the “guns-blazing style of Larson and Wetta [President and Vice President of Academic Affairs, respectively] is not conducive to harmony and collegiality and suggests an intention to mow down the opposition.” The SPJ task force further concluded that a November 2004 meeting President Larson and Vice President Kelly had with two student editors was an instance of intimidation and an improper interference in content: “We believe that any such attempt is a violation of the First Amendment.” On the matters of gravest concern, the SPJ task force took the OCC administrators to task, foreshadowing the pointed intervention of a Federal judge.

Robert Furstoss
Department of English and Literature
Ocean County College

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