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John Carroll University Student Newspaper Revises Guidelines to Censor Conservative Catholic Editor

Man reading a burning newspaper
Rodrigo Canisella Fávero/Flickr
ALANA MASTRANGELO

John Carroll University’s student newspaper, the Carroll News, is revising its editorial guidelines in an effort to censor speech after students took offense to a conservative Catholic student editor expressing his views in the newspaper. The newspaper then released a statement chastising the editor, suggesting that “free speech” should make everybody “feel safe in its harmony,” and that the Catholic student’s views are in “direct conflict” with the mission of the Jesuit university. The editor has since resigned from his position.

Students at John Carroll University (JCU) took offense to an op-ed published in The Carroll News by editor Declan Leary, who criticized a new magazine, entitled, Loud & Proud Zine, after it had first criticized him for expressing his views about a JCU-funded drag show last semester. Leary argued that a Catholic university is not an appropriate location for hosting such events.

“For about 30 pages — various contributors — including students, faculty members and three drag performers —– rant about how some scary conservative establishment (whose face is, of course, yours truly) is trying to repress them,” wrote Leary, “the issue isn’t that they’re being repressed; it’s just that nobody really wants to listen to them.”

The student’s op-ed sparked outrage among students, who then reported Leary to the school’s “Bias Response Team,” prompting the university to react by sending an email alerting the campus community of Leary’s opinion piece, claiming that it had caused “feelings of tremendous sorrow, anger, and fear.”

“Some feel unsafe and unwelcome. Many find themselves questioning whether they are valued as members of this campus community,” said JCU in its email obtained by Breitbart News.

The email had been referring to the supposed safety concerns belonging to the “LGBTQIA+” community, disregarding any potential safety concerns that could result from the conservative student being publicly called out to the entire campus community.

“Like who tf do YOU THINK YOU ARE criticizing someone’s art that has symbolic meaning to their personal identity? Literally, fight me,” tweeted one self-proclaimed JCU student, in response to one of the criticisms in Leary’s op-ed.

“If we’re not allowed to criticize art anymore because it has personal meaning to the artist, there are a lot of art critics (all of them) who’ll need to find new jobs,” responded Leary, “P.S. calls to violence… classy.”

The university went on to affirm its commitment to the “LGBTQIA+ community” and assured students that JCU would “work diligently to heal the wounds plaguing our campus community” and “create a space going forward.”

The Carroll News then followed suit by releasing a similar statement, informing the public that the newspaper’s staff manual would be revised to “ensure this issue does not recur in the future,” and that all editors will be “held accountable” to the new rules curtailing speech in the student newspaper.

“Violations of the new code will result in disciplinary action that could lead to removal from staff,” affirmed the student newspaper.

The student newspaper then went on to call out Leary by name, and even took it upon itself to claim that the student’s views are in “direct conflict” with the university’s mission. “Opinion/Editorial Editor Declan Leary’s tone and choice of language in his writing has repeatedly been in direct conflict with the mission of the University,” affirmed The Carroll News.

The revised guidelines have effectively forced Leary to resign from his position as editor, as expressing his opinions will no longer be permissible in the student newspaper next semester.

“I was told that if I stayed, I would be subject to very strict rules for what I’m allowed to say moving forward,” said Leary of his resignation to Breitbart News, “Obviously, that’s not something I’m willing to stand for.”

The student newspaper had also claimed that “free speech” should make everybody “feel safe in its harmony,” and that it is “not meant to demean or make anyone’s identity feel threatened.”

The strict rules against language that “demeans” others’ identity, however, does not appear to apply while demeaning Catholics, as student writers seem to continue publishing pieces chastising Leary over his personal views.

“From the time I began writing for The Carroll News, I received a great deal of support from conservative students who felt more comfortable opposing the progressive orthodoxy of the campus because they saw me standing for conservative beliefs in spite of the significant backlash,” said Leary to Breitbart News.

“This is not just an attempt to shut me down; it is an attempt to shut down everybody like me,” added Leary, who also noted that he is “currently inquiring about the dishonesty of the newspaper’s statement on the matter.”

“They place the blame on me despite their approval of every word I wrote, and they claim to be pursuing new standards despite publishing targeted attacks against me in that very same issue,” said Leary.

The Carroll News did not respond to Breitbart News’ request for clarification on why its staff felt it was appropriate to name a specific student to the entire campus community while questioning a subjective viewpoint of that student in suggesting that his opinions are in direct conflict with the university’s mission.

John Carroll University did not respond to Breitbart New’s multiple requests for comment.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo and on Instagram.

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