“Why this Air of Persecution?”
Sanjay Paul

The article appeared in The Etownian, Mar. 29, 2007.

In an article published in the Patriot-News on Feb. 26, I wrote about the student movement on certain college campuses to ban the sale of Coca Cola. Subsequently, the Etownian's editorial board (or at least two-thirds of it) chastised me for having “belittled their professionalism and demeaned students like those he instructs at Elizabethtown College .”

Really? I did all that ?

Let's take the first charge, provoked solely by this statement: “At Elizabethtown College , the campus newspaper recently published a piece on the subject -- one might be forgiven for detecting a wistful undercurrent in favor of booting the soda maker off the premises.” That's it. There's no further mention of Elizabethtown College or any reference to the Etownian. Not a word. But the Etownian saw fit to infer, from that single sentence, that “the tone of Paul's article managed to…accuse the Etownian of unprofessional conduct.”

A single reference to an article (not an editorial, mind you) in the Etownian, a phrase—“a wistful undercurrent”—and this constitutes an attack on the professionalism, indeed the ethics, of the editorial board! And offers being extended to attend their meetings—undoubtedly, paragons of decorum and virtue. But who questioned these things anyway? Whence this indignation, dear members of the board, why this air of persecution?

The second charge, viz. that I have demeaned students, is also equally specious. In my article, I take aim at a group of activist students who are trying to ban the sale of Coca Cola on campuses—and show that their stance does not stand up to scrutiny. So—what now? One cannot criticize the actions of a group of students, a small group of students, at Swarthmore, Harvard and the like, without being accused of attacking all students everywhere? One gets charged with demeaning all students? Past and present? (There was a history lesson somewhere in the editorial.) And that phrase, like those I instruct at Etown —what does that mean? Please. Less of the overwrought stuff.

So, to sum up, dear Editorial Board, or at least two-thirds of it: Lighten up.

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