The Daily Beacon Positions Itself as a Platform for Hate Speech

I am disappointed that the University of Tennessee’s student paper, the Daily Beacon, published a letter filled with Islamophobic hate speech on Thursday, October 20, 2016. The printing of this hateful, ignorant garbage was later defended by the Editor-In-Chief, Bradi Musil, regardless of the regular instances of discrimination and vandalism enacted against minorities on Knoxville’s University of Tennessee campus. Many of these aggressions towards our minority students occurred in the wake of the state’s decision to defund the university’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion this past May.

Unfortunately, the students who run the Daily Beacon have decided to allow someone writing under a pseudonym to use the paper as a sounding board for Islamophobic filth. In her response to the outcry against the staff’s decision to publish this anonymous letter, Bradi Musil defended the decision to print hate speech in the Daily Beacon by writing that the Beacon prints all of the letters that are sent to them and no one had ever written hate speech in a letter before.

Musil went on to write, “Some readers believe we should be writing articles about potential dangers or threats to our campus because of the presence of certain groups.” I agree with Musil. Threats to our campus and the safety and security of the students of the University of Tennessee should be addressed in the Daily Beacon. Unfortunately, I have not seen a single Beacon article covering the rise in KKK graffiti on campus, most likely in response to the demonstrations lead by the #UTDiversityMatters coalition over the past year.

Musil then attempted to spin the Beacon’s choice to publish the letter. In her response, Musil pointed out that conscientious readers, who do not believe hate speech has a place in the student-run newspaper of Tennessee’s flagship school, spoke out against the letter in support of Muslims, as if that were her plan all along. Musil even invoked the First Amendment in an attempt to justify her decision to print anonymously written hate speech, as though the First Amendment exonerates her of all responsibility in this matter. It seems that Musil believes that as Editor-In-Chief, she is forced to publish every little piece of trash that hits her desk, just because someone took the time to write it down.

This is an irresponsible position to take when we consider that the purpose of this letter is to further marginalize a group of students on our campus. The Beacon’s staff even removed the letter from their website long enough to correct the anonymous author’s grammar before re-publishing it, actively refining the language of a letter the website claims is “the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon’s editorial staff.” This was poor judgement on the part of Musil and the staff of the Daily Beacon, and I am both disappointed and angered that the staff of the Daily Beacon would be so insensitive that they would publish a letter that asserts that “Anyone agreeing to allow Muslims into the USA and/or not agreeing to deport all Muslims is committing Treason.”