Commentary | Letters: Readers rally to Daily’s side in time of peril!

Vote Yes for student autonomy!

Never mind to which McGill press we are partial; as students of McGill University, we are mystified as to why the relevance of The McGill Daily is being questioned in the upcoming referendum. Not only does The Daily play an integral role in the landscape and history of this University, but it remains the only free, independent, student press on campus. The continued existence of The McGill Daily is not an issue of left v. right politics, rather, it is fundamentally a question of students’ rights to autonomy and free speech. Every member of this University benefits from an independent press. Regardless of one’s political ideology, a vote for The Daily is a vote for free speech.

Lee Fiorio

U2 Geography

Adele Meyer

U2 Sociology

Daily locks in crucial Kosman endorsement

One day, several months ago, I had interviews with both The McGill Daily and The McGill Tribune during the same hour. There was probably some emergency – my guess a club got less funding than it wanted, but I’m not sure.

While I was meeting with the Daily writer, the writer from The Trib stopped by to see if I was free. It was at that moment – that exact moment with the Daily writer slouched on my sofa in his skinny black jeans, sneakers, red plaid unbuttoned flannel over a t-shirt, juxtaposed with the Trib writer in his ironed collared shirt, clean jeans and business-casual shoes – that I realized exactly why both campus papers are so important for the Students’ Society. It’s not only about having a different perspectives. It’s not only about “independent” versus “official.” It’s not only about style. Campus newspapers give students learning experience and training in journalism.

We need both The Tribune and The Daily because neither of those journalists would have worked for the other paper, but they both deserve the introduction to journalism. If two papers aren’t enough, don’t shut one down; start up a third!

And that’s why I’m voting Yes for The Daily.

Marcelle Kosman

U3 English Literature

SSMU VP Clubs and & Services

Appreciating Hive Mind… sarcastically?

Re: “Valentine’s Day is possibly worse than Christmas” | Commentary | Feb 21, 2008

I’d like to congratulate The Daily on its excellent humour column, Hive Mind. It’s usually spot on, and the latest instalment did not disappoint – Ms. Herra-Vega’s carefully cultivated satiric persona was in fine form on the ticklish subject of Valentine’s Day. You just have to admire the ruthless artistry with which the piece imitates and skewers the self-important drudgery that so often passes for cultural commentary. The notion of the holiday being a cunning scheme to inflict vicious norms on the marginalized was particularly masterful in its sublime empty-headedness, but the column hit several other classic notes with aplomb: instinctive behaviour is a capitalist crime; celebration, in a nicely Orwellian turn, is really the denigration of those who do not celebrate; love is a calculated insult to the loveless, families a fiendish affront to the unmarried. It perfectly captures the faults of the politically correct mind. “Colonialism Day”? Comic gold. But – and here’s where the column shines – it’s more than that. At the heart of her ironical artichoke, Ms. Herra-Vega has cleverly concealed a fresh and trenchant cultural critique: in some respects the popular observance of holidays tends towards, yes, the crass.

Keep up the good work! It’s fine satire such as this that should reduce bona fide drudges to shamed silence, simply by situating the gold standard for mealy-mouthed hackery in a humour column where everybody can freely laugh at its silliness. We should all do more to commend Ms. Herra-Vega for her efforts to raise the level of public discourse.

Stuart Wright

U3 English Literature

Anti-Daily blogger publishes letter in Daily, misses irony

Re: “An editor’s look at the plagiarism allegations” | Commentary | Feb 21, 2008

In his Comment, Drew Nelles writes: “Mahler says members of the Ethics Committee have told him they consider this a case of plagiarism, even with the citation.” This conveys that Nelles himself hadn’t read those Ethics members’ responses. Untrue. He had and was aware that they had seen his email and arguments.

Nelles argues: “The easy thing to do would have been to consider this plagiarism despite the advice we received to the contrary, run a retraction, and move on. As a reward for following the professional advice we received…”

Does Nelles think so little of McGill students? Not printing any kind of retraction or note for readers was clearly the easiest thing to do before The Tribune made things public. The Harvard Crimson did a retraction, without considering anything “plagiarism,” and discontinued a column for much less unattributed similarities to texts. A lawyer is not responsible for the unprofessional course chosen by Nelles and co-editors. (And plagiarism is not a legal concept; copyright infringement is.)

As for the public editor: Before this controversy, three major incidents (involving our Features editor) transpired. Each resulted in Errata, without sensible changes to editorial policy that would have prevented the next incident. But the public editor shrugs them off as “minor,” including dailywatch.wordpress.com/2008/01/02/the-daily-prints-errors-about -the-rachel-corrie-play-strangely-all-relating-to-jewish-pressure-how-did-this-happen/

Szpajda could have researched which incidents are a big deal to professional editors, and recommended editorial policies to address such problems or increase journalistic accountability. Does Szpajda only care whether The Daily is “too activist”? McGill students deserve the most for their money. The policies of independent, egalitarian-style newspapers at Harvard and other universities show that with The Daily, they are not getting as much as they should.

That said, I’m voting Yes, with the hope that The Daily finally becomes radical enough to change its own status quo.

Adam Mahler

U3 English

Trib writer condescends verbosely

Re: “Students trash military ads in Tribune” | Commentary | Feb 21, 2008

I must take this opportunity to thank you for lending legitimacy to a pack of juvenile vandals who clearly have far too much time on their hands. Indeed it can be said that the entire “demilitarize McGill” campaign has been characterized by infantile grousing and a severely misguided world view. They have obviously been reading too many Naomi Klein books (i.e. more than zero Naomi Klein books). By tearing pages out of The McGill Tribune and demanding that military ads be pulled, or else, these pedomorphic activists have demonstrated their inability to engage in civilized discussion. I suppose by resorting to name-calling I have myself have deviated from civilized discussion. Unfortunately it has become painfully clear that nothing other than this sort of “direct action” will be comprehensible to the undergraduate activist, that great crusader purifying our campus of all things profligate and all semblances of the real world.

James Gilman

U0 Political Science & Economics

Tribune writer

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