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If you don’t like something, then write something

Being an editor of the opinions section of a small liberal arts college’s newspaper comes with a couple perks. Namely, I get to hear some fairly hot takes from my peers on campus. I think that I am in an amazing position to feel out how people feel about various issues around Carleton. I don’t want to misrepresent the life of being a Carletonian editor, after all, it’s not a life of glamour and attention. Recently, I’ve noticed that there are many people who will come up to me to discuss articles that were published in Viewpoint. I’m happy to talk about the articles I wrote; I think it’s my responsibility to explain and stand by the opinions that I put out into the open. But, recently, people have approached me to complain about articles that I did not write myself, but that appeared in my section. 

These complaints range from issues with facts that appear in some articles to the articles’ subjects themselves. Most recently, I’ve received many complaints about the article published a couple of weeks ago defending the Northfield Women’s Center. On two separate occasions, students have come up to me complaining that putting that article in the section was unethical and wrong. And, on four separate occasions, I’ve had people tell me that they disagree with the article and think we shouldn’t have published it because they disagreed with it. If this happened a couple of times a year, I don’t think I would have had much of a problem with it, but six times in the same term concerning the same paper feels different. I don’t think that we made a mistake in publishing this article. If you think otherwise, I implore you to write a response to the article or a Viewpoint calling us out for publishing it. 

I tend to be of the opinion that the Viewpoint section really only has three reasons to not publish an article: its thesis is fundamentally factually incorrect, the opinion swerves into downright bigotry/bullying or we simply don’t have enough room to publish this piece. The first of these, I think, is a guideline to stick by. I will say that, in the case of every article published in Viewpoint this year, no thesis has been factually incorrect or bigoted to the degree that we had to censor it. I personally don’t believe that it’s my job to censor these articles beyond these boundaries because, in my mind, that crosses a line of censorship that I, and many other editors, don’t feel comfortable with. 

But even if an article crosses these failsafes, there will always be someone who disagrees with it. So why don’t they publish a response? I get it: the terms at Carleton are brutal, time is dwindling, it’s really nice outside or one may just not have the initiative to write a response. All of these are completely valid reasons not to write an article to respond to something, but if you have a problem with something to the point that you think the Carletonian or a writer has wronged you, I would encourage you to write a response. I don’t want it to seem like I’m directing this criticism at people who have problems with the article on the Women’s Center. I think it would be fantastic if everyone who had a problem with something big on campus would share that opinion, whether that be an article about boots on the ground in Ukraine, the Sproncert artist or whatever concern you have going around campus. 

I don’t want this piece to seem directed, but it kind of is. I’m tired of people coming up to me complaining about an article in my section and then saying that they don’t want to write a response to that article. That’s fine if you don’t want to, because you don’t have to. I just find it amusing that you have enough capacity to let an article live rent-free in your brain and subsequently complain to someone who didn’t write said article, but simply writing a response to maximize your audience and voice your concerns is out of the question. I hope people walk away reading this article thinking one of three things: “I should write a response to this,” “I should write a response to something else” or “Bax just wants someone to fill his section with more articles.” I think that any of these is a great takeaway from this article and want people to engage more with opinions on this campus and not just share their discontent with a select group of people. Viewpoint is a great option for people to share their thoughts and feelings, and having a disagreement over these thoughts is natural, so let’s embrace the disagreements and share how we feel. And if this happens to increase the number of articles we get submitted to Viewpoint, that’s just a happy accident. 

I think that part of the problem that people have when reading Viewpoint is that they see Viewpoint articles as attempts at claiming universal truth. Frankly, that’s baloney. Viewpoint is not News, Viewpoint is not Features, Viewpoint isn’t even the Bald Spot. Viewpoint is, and I say this an editor of this section, more akin to a terrible Facebook meme that your mom shares with you than any other section of the Carletonian. Because my baby is the oddity of the paper, I think people should treat it as such. The purpose of Viewpoint is not to be the Fox & Friends equivalent of our News section, it is there for you to voice your concerns and complaints. I think people should complain more, and I think Viewpoint is an excellent way for people to do so. 

So complain more, write for the Carletonian and have a good summer. I hope to see you at a pitch meeting next fall. 


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About the Contributor
Bax Meyer
Bax Meyer, Managing Editor
Hey, all! I'm Bax (he/him), and I'm a junior Econ major with a Middle East Studies minor. I love talking about Middle East politics and American Indian Treaty Rights. I'll always send you good book or movie recomendations. You can probably find me on campus wandering the arb, on 1st libe, or at step areobics. I like dad jokes, American Indian Treaty Rights, shawarma, and publishing my hot takes in the Carletonian anonymously.
Red flags: econ major, will judge you for using the Oxford comma, and hates geese
Green flags: Middle East Studies minor, still uses the Oxford comma, and quotes the Star Wars prequels on the daily
Bax was previously Managing Director and Viewpoint Editor.

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