Colorado State University: Student Editor on Trial for Protected Speech

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Colorado State University

The editor of a student newspaper ran an editorial that said “Taser this…FUCK BUSH” in response to the well-known tasering incident at the University of Florida, which had occurred four days earlier. The school admonished the editor, declaring the editorial “unethical and unprofessional,” but took no further action when they found the speech was protected under the First Amendment.

  • Campus-media watchdogs expect free-speech chills after “Taser this….

    October 10, 2007

    The free-speech zone of the student-center plaza at Colorado State University doesn’t look any less free these days, after Rocky Mountain Collegian Editor-in-Chief David McSwane received a formal admonishment for the September 21 editorial that read, “Taser this…FUCK BUSH.” But not everyone thinks the decisions of the university Board of Student Communications have equaled a victory for protected speech and the First Amendment. “Even though the hearing had a nominally positive outcome, the hearing itself was definitely a negative for free speech,” says Seth Anthony, a chemistry graduate student who started CSU’s Libertarian Party. “I think the very fact that […]

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  • Colorado State U. Newspaper May Finally Gain Independence

    April 17, 2008

    Much has happened since we last reported on the case of the controversial editorial printed earlier this academic year by Colorado State University’s Rocky Mountain Collegian. In that case, the editors published an editorial reading “Taser this…FUCK Bush”, fully within the paper’s editorial and ethical guidelines. The paper’s editor, J. David McSwane, was threatened with punishment and had to sit through a hearing process, but he was merely admonished. In November, we reported more victories for free speech at CSU. The interim president of CSU’s Board of Student Communications resigned after, as The Coloradoan reported, “withdrawing a controversial proposal that […]

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  • CSU Ruling on Student Editorial Respects First Amendment Limits on Government Action

    October 5, 2007

    Yesterday, Colarado State University’s (CSU’s) Board of Student Communications (BSC) issued a ruling admonishing J. David McSwane, editor of The Rocky Mountain Collegian, for violating the newspaper’s code of ethics by using an expletive in a September 21 editorial critical of President Bush. Specifically, the BSC wrote: The Board of Student Communications admonishes you for violations of two standards specified by the BSC Manual that resulted from publication of the editorial published September 21 by the Rocky Mountain Collegian. The Board of Student Communications determined you violated: 1) Code of Ethics, Student Media, Colorado State University, (Appendix A) — specifically […]

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  • FIRE Debates CSU Case on the Radio Today

    October 5, 2007

    The feedback from our involvement in the Colorado State University editorial case has been plentiful and thoughtful. Many FIRE readers wrote in with their thoughts on this case, and today there is an opportunity to hear more as FIRE President Greg Lukianoff debates radio host Mike Rosen on the Mike Rosen Show on 850 KOA News Radio in Denver. Click here to listen online today at 12 p.m. ET/10 a.m. MT to hear this exciting discussion!

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  • Colorado State University to Hold Hearing on Controversial Student Editorial

    October 4, 2007

    FORT COLLINS, Col., October 4, 2007—Colorado State University is set to hold a formal hearing today on charges against the editor of its student newspaper, who late last month ran an editorial that simply said, “Taser this…FUCK BUSH.” CSU’s Board of Student Communications (BSC) is considering firing Rocky Mountain Collegian editor J. David McSwane for publishing the editorial in response to the well-known tasering incident at the University of Florida four days earlier. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is calling on CSU President Larry Edward Penley to put an immediate stop to the trial, which is an […]

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  • CSU and ‘Conventions of Decency’

    October 1, 2007

    This Thursday, Colorado State University (CSU) junior J. David McSwane will be headed to a closed-door hearing to decide his future as editor-in-chief of the Rocky Mountain Collegian, CSU’s student newspaper. The offense? On September 21, McSwane’s paper ran a four word editorial, reading simply “Taser This: FUCK BUSH.” In response, complaints have streamed in from all over the campus and the country—and while the university at first demonstrated a principled willingness to defend the paper and McSwane, the announcement of closed-door hearings in the middle of political firestorms seldom bodes well for free speech. From looking at some of […]

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