This past week, The Lantern published a story about a judge who wrote blatantly homophobic letters that were published in The Lantern 27 years ago. The letters resurfaced and the judge, who said his views have changed drastically since the time he penned the letters, apologized.
The letters, which referred to gay people as “savages” and said most people who had AIDS “pretty much deserve it anyway,” were hateful, put simply. And while the fact that someone would think and write these things is beyond troubling, it was equally troubling that The Lantern would give these ideas a platform.
The letters were published in a reader forum in which readers could write to the editor and have their thoughts published. Though The Lantern reserved the right to decline publishing letters due to space constraints, it appears that there were very few restrictions on what content would or would not be published.
Looking through these letters revealed that while some letters published in the reader forum were thoughtful and constructive, others were hateful or inappropriate.
I don’t know and won’t speculate on what procedures and policies The Lantern followed at this time, but I do know The Lantern would not publish letters of this sort today.
While The Lantern does not have a reader forum anymore, we welcome letters to the editor. However, The Lantern has a duty to be thoughtful about what letters are published, and I thought this would be a good time to discuss The Lantern’s practices of publishing letters in today’s iteration of the paper.
As a news organization, The Lantern is committed to upholding the First Amendment. However, what is published in The Lantern is up to the discretion of our staff. This means that we are not obligated to publish or give space to any letter or column that comes our way.
Like anything else published in The Lantern, the letters must have relevance and timeliness to the Ohio State community. Unsubstantiated accusations and claims will not be published because of our ethical obligations to accuracy and fairness.
Above all else, letters that are homophobic, racist or hateful in any way will not be published or given a platform in The Lantern.
If you would like to submit a letter to the editor, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and include your full name and phone number.