Student Newspaper Censorship: Ventriloquist Banned by Dummies at Cedarville University
Is censorship Christian? Top administrators at Cedarville University, a conservative Christian school in Ohio, have apparently banned an alternative student newspaper named The Ventriloquist from being distributed on campus.
On Wednesday morning, without warning and citing bogus rules, Cedarville officials “forcefully shut down” the paper. Yowza. Oh, and they did it in a really classy way — by confiscating copies that had just been delivered and in a few cases staring student staffers down and PRYING PAPERS from their ink-stained hands.
Who did this? The vice president of student life and THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSITY. Seriously? The prez doesn’t have anything better to do than stomping around campus intimidating student journalists and stealing copies of a pub he doesn’t like?
Read the following description of the incident from Religion News Service. Then attempt to re-read while rolling your eyes:
“[Student Life VP Jonathan] Wood approached [Ventriloquist editor-in-chief Zach] Schneider as he was distributing papers, and said ‘you don’t have permission to do this,’ Schneider said. He then physically pulled the papers from Schneider’s hands. The school president [Thomas White] also approached another student, who was also distributing papers, and did the same thing.
‘I didn’t want to get into a tug of war,’ Schneider said. He asked if he could have the papers back. White ‘stuttered for 10 seconds and said, ‘They’re being confiscated.’ White refused to return the papers, citing the necessity for prior permission, a requirement that is not found in the student handbook and was never stipulated for the distribution of The Ventriloquist’s 12 previous issues.”
So if the paper is named the Ventriloquist, does that make Cedarville officials like White and Wood the dummies?
In that metaphor, no, but only because the Ventriloquist is not speaking through them. According to outgoing EIC Schneider, “The goal of the Ventriloquist, put simply, is to counter ideological fascism. To present controversial views or unique perspectives in the words of their own authors, so readers are at least forced to consider the existence and (hopefully) best arguments of another point of view.”
All well and good, unless that point of view — or lifestyle — is pitted against Cedarville’s growing “Southern Baptist takeover.” (One fallout from the takeover: Bible classes taught by women at Cedarville may now only have female students enrolled. Why? Because of a random Bible verse stating “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man.” Oh, OK.)
The previous Ventriloquist issue, published in February, featured a student leader’s reflections on being gay (which the student life VP told him was a result of “spiritual instability”) and a piece by a separate student carrying the sub-headline “I’m Gay. Why I must live in fear at Cedarville.”
Were these the write-ups that inspired White-and-Wood’s Operation Takedown? Was it previous articles by an atheist alumna? Or is it just the general mission of the pub — to respectfully “publish articles that are controversial or unpopular”?
Regardless, the Ventriloquist shutdown scheme has actually proven popular among some Cedarville students. As one undergrad commented online, “Amen! Go Dr. White. … It doesn’t matter who is in charge, God’s will is going to be accomplished no matter what; and obviously His will does not involve ‘The Ventriloquist’ at this point in time.”
See, everything’s fine. It’s not egregiously offensive censorship. It’s just God’s will.
Let us pray.