Shortly before I left Nebraska Wesleyan, Dr. Schaffer asked me about my political affiliation — he said that he never could tell based on my editorial choices for The Reveille. His comment gave me some pleasure, because I spent a good deal of time worrying about objectivity.
I understand why journalists (of the classic-type) strive to avoid partisan language. The mission for the profession, after all, is:
[T]hat the public journal is a public trust; that all connected with it are, to the full measure of their responsibility, trustees for the public; that acceptance of a lesser service than the public service is betrayal of this trust. — Written by Walter Williams in 1914, “The Journalists Creed”
Idealists prize “accuracy” and “fairness” in their attempt at fulfilling this doctrine.
But as a person in my own right, there comes a point when I stop saying “You have a right to your opinion” and respond instead, “Are you kidding me?” (e.g. Michele Bachmann ascribing “honor dignity to every person” despite standing by previous comments about gays and lesbians.)
I spent years silently fuming and venting to friends, but recently had the opportunity to witness a striking example of one friend — and hundreds of others — translate objections into tangible, political action.
Malinda Frevert, news director at BOLD Nebraska, was arrested alongside 1,252 other protesters during two weeks of civil disobedience. The group, organized under the moniker of Tar Sands Action, wants to stop the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline due to climate and environmental concerns.
As I watched the Parks Police tie Malinda’s wrists behind her back and lead her to the police transport I asked myself if there was any cause for which I would risk arrest. (That certainly seemed to be my mom’s fear when I called to share the experience.)
The answer is no, with a caveat.
Truth be told, the stakes aren’t high enough personally. No issue threatens my well-being so seriously that getting arrested as a form of protest would serve any purpose that I can discern. Will that always be the case? I don’t know.
My knowledge of the Keystone XL Pipeline is limited, but I can tell you this: people I greatly respect have voiced their opposition, so my attention is piqued. At the core of our political system, I can’t believe any other tactic carries more weight than the opinions of our friends, mentors, colleagues, and family members.
Momentum appears to be on the side of BOLD Nebraska and its allies. Two governors (NE and VT) issued statements opposing the pipeline. Meanwhile Malinda is back to work, mind you with plans to frame her arrest ticket.
I feel as though I am only now beginning to articulate publicly where I stand on the issues. But I agree with Malinda who told me yesterday that “activist Brad is in there and I’m excited to see what he’ll do.”