Tonight on Backbone Radio, campus editor Sean Doherty related the hilarious, but also deeply paranoid, fears of a Metro State staffer who voiced the following chain of spontaneous word associations in regard to a then-proposed (and since launched) campus newspaper called The Constitutional Reporter. "Constitutional... Klan... Republican... hateful... illegal... Nazi... swastika"
Yes, those are direct quotes. This really happened. Doherty's full notes of the phone conversations are given below.
STATEMENT BY SEAN DOHERTY Senior Political Science Major Metropolitan State College of Denver
Here are the minutes from my phone conversation with a representative of Metro State's administration.
Setting: I had previously asked for permission to put my paper on campus. They agreed. When I asked for written permission, the "gatekeeper" said he would get the permission slip to the right people and contact me. So, on the morning of 2/4/09 at 10:23am, I got the following call (I wrote down the following notes immediately after the conversation)
The gentleman on the phone had spoken with the appropriate people in admin who had him tell me the following:
"This is not a reflection on you as an individual but..." (an important distinction. What he is saying is that they don't know who I am but what concerns them is what they do know: the title of my newspaper: The Constitutional Reporter. They have no knowledge of anything except for the title of the paper)
He then goes on to say that the title Constitutional is concerning since the word is sometimes associated with radicals. He goes into rambling mode and lists a few other concerns such as "how do we know you're not part of the Klan?" He asked specifically if this was a Republican newspaper.
I responded that it was nonpartisan.
He then said that they don't want anything that could be considered hateful or illegal on the campus.
Then, he tried to justify their refusal to sign with this number: "we are for freedom of speech, freedom of speech..." and he explained that they understood this was a state institution and state property but that they wanted to "see an outline of the paper, you know, a business plan, to know what its about because they have to be careful before they give approval for something to be placed on campus.
I objected and said they did not need and could not request a business plan- I'm not even associated with the school other than being a student!
He said that was right but they would still need an outline of some sort.
I knew he wasn't the guy responsible for these concerns; he was just speaking for some administrators behind closed doors. I asked if I could meet with these people and address their concerns specifically so they may see that I am a good guy and certainly not a radical Klan member!
He said that they're busy folks (to which I responded that I am too) and he said they're always in meetings. So I asked him, "what about today at 3:30pm? Are they busy today at that time?" He could not give me an answer one way or the other and brushed off the question. He just told me to bring in an outline and we'd go from there. According to him, if I brought in an outline, then he could schedule a meeting with the administrators who could meet me and sign off giving our paper documented approval.
A day later 2/5/09 and around 11:30am, we have another phone conversation:
He reaffirmed that they were concerned and instead of just a Klan reference, he used the whole term in question: Ku Klux Klan. In addition, he added a new one to the list of concerns: that they did not want a Nazi paper on campus. "they did not want to pick up our paper and see a swastika on the cover."
I questioned him about what could be radical about the term Constitutional. To his credit, he said that the Constitutional Convention and other key events and figures in history were not radical (although, technically, in a way they were radical for that time) but he did not state any specific concerns or examples for what could be radical about the word Constitutional in a modern day context.
I asked him to submit his request to me in writing before I submit any outline in writing to them. I said something to the effect of "if the admin sees fit to request a written outline from me, I want a written outline of what their concerns are"
Nothing. He just told me to do an outline. I then said, basically, "well what if I did a news story about this? Would you want to put it in writing so nothing is mis-quoted?" He answered, "Absolutely not."
To contact Sean Doherty 303.263.2281 firstname.lastname@example.org