Tuesday, November 15, 2011
A streaker is a criminal, but a college newspaper that puts his full frontal photo on the front page is just exercising its First Amendment rights
But you know all that. Now consider this: at East Carolina University's November 5 football game against USM, John Sieglinger, 21, stripped to his birthday suit and ran onto the field. He was tackled and arrested for misdemeanor indecent exposure and first-degree. He could have been charged with a felony, but he wasn't, which means he won't be required to register as a sex offender. The streak was met with the usual mixed reactions: a lot of students were thoroughly amused by it, but other people believed the incident would scar the innocent children for life, because surely they've never seen a flaccid naked man from a distance on TV or the Internet.
The interesting part of the story is what happened the following Tuesday. ECU's student newspaper did something without much precedent in this country: it put an unedited photo of Mr. Sieglinger streaking -- full frontal nudity -- on the front page above the fold.
“It’s pretty in your face,” Lauren Morgan, an ECU student said. “When I looked at it, I was like, ‘They actually showed it, wow.’” Yes, Lauren. They actually showed "it."
The newspaper was hit with comments ranging from this: "People gonna hate on your decision to show a wiener on the front page but just know I encourage it," and "I will frame the front page of Tuesday’s paper," to this: "You owe the entire student body, as well as the university, an apology. We are trying to erase our awful reputation and having a non-censored photo on the cover is a disgrace."
Virginia Hardy, vice chancellor for ECU's student affairs, was one of those who was not amused. She said in a statement: “The decision by the East Carolinian to publish a photo of a streaker that showed full-frontal nudity was in very poor taste. The leadership at East Carolina University does not agree with that decision and does not support it.” But, Hardy pointed out, the paper is an independent, student-run paper and ultimately the decision on what to print rests with the student journalists.
Posted by Archivist at Tuesday, November 15, 2011