CMU Newspaper Rejected Group's Ad · 04 January 2005

Filed under: Press Coverage


By Bill Zlatos--Pittsburgh Tribune-Review--12/27/04

Unable to place an ad in student newspapers at Carnegie Mellon University and other campuses, conservative author David Horowitz is urging the Pennsylvania Legislature to adopt an academic bill of rights.

"It's outrageous, but not surprising in today's collegiate environment, that a newspaper would censor an ad that they disagreed with," Horowitz said. The ad focused on strife in the Middle East between Arabs and Jews.

Mark Egerman, executive officer and acting editor-in-chief of The Tartan at CMU, took responsibility for withholding the ad last month.

Egerman, a post-graduate student, said he would have been "much more likely" to run the ad if it were not for the controversy last spring with The Natrat, an April's Fool's version of The Tartan. It published what many considered a racy and racist edition.

Horowitz is founder and president of the Los Angeles-based Center for the Study of Popular Culture. He is not the David Horowitz who stars in "Fight Back," a consumer-oriented television program.

Carnegie Mellon joined Purdue University, Texas A&M, San Francisco State, the University of Florida, the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Chicago in withholding the author's ad. Ninety-three college newspapers ran it.

"I'm going to sue San Francisco State, and we're negotiating with Texas A&M," Horowitz said. "If they insist on violating my First Amendment rights, I'll sue, and we'll win."

Because The Tartan does not receive state money, Horowitz concedes he has no legal recourse against it. But he is taking his case for more intellectual freedom on college campuses to the state Legislature.

His academic bill of rights would ensure that no faculty members are hired or denied promotion or tenure on the basis of their political or religious beliefs. Likewise, the doctrine would ensure that students would not be graded on the basis of their political or religious beliefs.

"We're expecting it to be introduced in the spring in Pennsylvania," Horowitz said, "and we would expect it to pass as well in Pennsylvania."

Backers of the bill have talked the most about the idea with state Rep. Gibson C. Armstrong, a Republican from Lancaster County, said Brad Shipp, national field director of Students for Academic Freedom, a group founded by Horowitz.

The ad encouraged readers to visit Horowitz's online news magazine, Frontpagemag.com, to order his latest book, "Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left."

Headlined "Israel is the canary in the mine," the ad states, "The war between Arabs and Jews is not the cause of the war on terror, as apologists for Muslim radicals claim; it is the war on terror."

It states that "American apologists for Arab aggression are also apologists for Islamic aggression. In their eyes, Arab terror in the Middle East has a root cause in the policies of Israel, whom terrorists refer to as the 'little Satan.' "

"When I first saw the ad, I got very concerned," Egerman said. "It was respectful enough to be published, but controversial enough to be worrisome."

Egerman said he was contacted by 40 people after his refusal to run Horowitz's ad. A few of them called for his resignation. He said he spent $425 out of his own pocket to cover the revenue the paper lost by not running the ad.

"I thought if I'm going to make this decision," he said, "I owe it to students not to burden them with the financial cost."

Jennifer Byrd Parry, faculty adviser of The Tartan, said she discussed the issue with Egerman but did not tell him what to do.

"The Natrat incident in the spring has certainly affected The Tartan's decision-making processes," she said, "and I don't think that's a bad thing. Anything that encourages students to be more thoughtful about their actions is a positive thing."

Student body President Erik Michaels-Ober said he received little reaction over the decision not to run the ad.

"This is Mark's call," said Michaels-Ober, 21, of Woodstock, N.Y. "It's his belief that the ad would be harmful and divisive, and I respect that."


Bill Zlatos can be reached at bzlatos@tribweb.com or (412) 320-7828.