Tuesday, December 13, 2005
On this day:

Mobile Register: Crimson with embarrassment

The Register's editors provide some constructive criticism for the Crimson White:

COLLEGE SHOULD be a place where students develop not merely erudition but also character -- and two facets of character that merit development are judgment and good taste.

Editors at the partially-taxpayer-funded Crimson White, the student-run newspaper at the University of Alabama, demonstrate neither judgment nor taste in publishing a graphic weekly sex column.

In this case, the word "trashy" could substitute for "graphic." And the editors should cease publishing such trash.

Some of the columns read almost like clinical "how-to" guides. Some of them read like slightly raunchier versions of Bridget Jones' diary. Some of them are just plain gross. All of them are vulgar.

Before publishing such junk, editors ought to remember several things: First, their own reputations. Second, the fact that the university -- and therefore, in part, taxpayers -- pays about 20 percent of the paper's budget. Third, that their publication reflects not just on themselves but on the state and the school whose name adorns their masthead. Fourth, that more than just college students will read it.

According to The Associated Press, editor Chris Otts "said the column fits in with the mission of the paper, which is to inform and entertain students," but he dismissed concerns about the papers free availability off campus:

"It would disturb me very much that it got into the hands of a 9-year-old, but, at the same time, I would be abandoning our mission if I took that into account," he said.

Mr. Otts has a strange idea of the paper's mission -- and a poorly developed sense of responsibility. The question here isn't whether university authorities should censor the column. The question is why the editors don't restrain themselves.