Theft highlights free speech concerns

Some say that any publicity is good publicity. Administrators at Texas A&M University-Commerce may not agree after the university, which doesn’t usually appear in headlines, stepped into the national spotlight this week after several publications and blogs, including The Associated Press and ESPN, disseminated comments by its football coach praising players for reportedly stealing hundreds of copies of the school newspaper. The lead story in the newspaper was a report about members of the football team facing drug charges.

Guy Morriss, the head football coach at Commerce, called the theft “the best team building exercise we have ever done,” in an interview with police, according to news reports. When asked if he had read the unflattering article about his players in the newspaper that day, Morriss said, “I don’t read that crap.”

Though the theft of the newspapers is clearly wrong, this incident also points to deeper issues concerning free speech at universities. A college education exposes students to a wealth of ideas and their value, even when they don’t agree with them. It is not only unsettling that college students would steal newspapers thinking it would get rid of a problem, but also that a mentor would endorse their behavior.

The football players and Morriss, a TCU alumnus, were surely taught better than that. It is to be hoped that this incident will further enlighten students about the dangers of censorship.

Editor-in-chief Julieta Chiquillo for the editorial board.