Column: Equal rights means equal rights

Katelyn Siegert, Managing Editor

Protests are rocking Mizzou’s campus, but journalists and the First Amendment are taking a hard hit as well.

Those protests have coerced both System President Tim Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin’s resignations; Wolfe’s being effective immediately, while Loftin will finish out the year.

From the coverage I have seen, the activist group Concerned Student 1950 conducted peaceful protests, hunger strikes and heavily worded letters to the administration requesting Wolfe’s resignation.

These are all within their First Amendment rights.

However, some involved within the group are attempting to rob the media of those same fundamental rights.

According to an article from the Columbia Journalism Review, protestors, including Mizzou communication professor Melissa Click, refused photographs and began to physically remove the media from the public university quad.

Now is not the time to choose which rights are more important.

Our First Amendment freedoms should be cherished and we should respect our neighbor’s right to those freedoms as well.

How does the implementation of one’s rights somehow put an end to another’s rights?

When we say equality, do we really mean equal rights across all races, religions and professions?

If journalists back down in the face of this protest then we don’t deserve those First Amendment rights.

If we pick and choose our battles and our coverage, we’ll soon succumb to popular opinion and news outlets across the nation will be filled with photos of puppies and the Kardashians.

The effort to keep media out is reminiscent of that Facebook friend who posts “I’ve had the worst day ever, I just want someone to talk to,” but when they receive the attention they crave, reply with, “I don’t want to talk about it. Stop bothering me.”

The issue is all over social media, why not allow it to receive the coverage it deserves?

Journalism should give a voice to the masses and shine a light on injustices.

The injustices that Concerned Student 1950 is protesting are the issues that make the media a vital part of social change.

Why shouldn’t the media be able to cover the protests that resulted in the resignation of two administrators in an institution of higher education?

When you begin to revoke one citizen’s rights in favor of your own, the crusade for equality becomes futile.

Katelyn Siegert is a senior journalism major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]