The best defense of The New York Times is not by the publisher but by the editors and readers

**It was on today’s editorial page and it was not the letter from the publisher.

On the right side of the page was the letter from the publisher, which should be left unsaid and letters from readers about the crisis in Japan, which speak for themselves.

On the left side of the page were the editorials. The lead editorial was about Japan, below that about the Amazon and below that about the Ivory Coast. WAIT! I skipped over one: The U.C.L.A. Video. The U.C.L.A. Video?! About what? Freedom of speech, of course! But you wouldn’t have known that unless you read The New York Times. You would have thought that The U.C.L.A Video was about… the U.C.L.A. video. Let me explain.

Reading the opening of the editorial, you see immediately the name of the student, Alexandra Wallace, which you can Google, and the length of the YouTube video, 3 minutes, which you can then decide upon whether it is worth it to waste three minutes of your life viewing. Before you decide to view it, you are then given a summary of the YouTube video:

“seen by millions” - we can verify it. Or perhaps it was deleted by YouTube in which case we have a record in *The New York Times *that it was, in fact, seen by millions. “she disparages Asian students for using cellphones in the library” - the key word here is Asian. Another point: any student, Asian or not, should refrain from using cellphones, correction - talking in the library. (Library policy does not discriminate.) She was using a cellphone according to the news article. The most important point was made at the end of the paragraph - context: Japan tsunami, correction - tsunami, earthquake, nuclear disaster. (Tragically, it was a trifecta, folks.)

Just from reading the first paragraph of the editorial, you might conclude that Alexandria Wallace was arguably not racist; rather, she was insensitive (because of what happened in Japan) and hypocritical.

The next paragraph lays out an important point:

My argument is that the fact that this viral video made *The New York Times * is a reminder of The New York Times’ influence and the recursive triviality of things in society, i.e., YouTube videos. And I disagree with the editors that they were “clearly racist” words. The student newspaper was mentioned – that this went from UCLA’s student newspaper all the way to The New York Times in and of itself says something.

Eugene Volokh’s blog is mentioned, and Eugene Volokh gave a great argument that Alexandria Wallace was exercising her First Amendment rights. Finally, the editors educate readers unfamiliar with speech codes about how speech codes relate to free speech and college:

What brought about the editorial decision to have the Ivory Coast as an editorial? Hint: Libya was on the front page already.

Why did the editors mention Eugene Volokh’s blog and why did they quote him as a First Amendment expert? Hint: You may not like his blog. (That he was even mentioned in *The New York Times *also says something.)
I don’t watch Alexandria Wallace’s video because it’s on YouTube; I watch Alexandria Wallace’s YouTube video because it’s mentioned in The New York Times.

Yes, I’m better than “millions of people on YouTube” who saw the video only because it was on was on YouTube. Yes, I’m not one of the millions of people on YouTube who watched the YouTube video - I’m one of thousands of New York Times readers who watched the YouTube video. Elitist? To my peers at The Straight Dope Message Board, I plead guilty.

Here is my solution to today’s announcement:

To the Publisher:
Give readers an option - readers can read paper copies of The New York Times and they can also read digital copies of *The New York Times *with digital pages like this. Give readers an option at a reasonable price (and get Steve Jobs to come out with Digital Page Reader 1.0) and reasonable people will be reasonably happy.

Is there a debate, here? Or were you simply up too late and slipped into some stream-of-consciousness fugue state?

I think this works better in MPSIMS. If a genuine debate breaks out, it can come back.

[ /Modding ]

True. Also, water is wet and rain falls down.

The First Amendment has nothing to do with what the board of regents (or whoever is in charge there) of UCLA does. Speech codes can reasonably be attacked on multiple grounds. The First Amendment is not one of them.

That said, if I were the author of such racist nonsense and I had such an easy excuse to escape the worst of the consequences, I’d welcome expulsion.

The story here is not that some college student posted a video on YouTube. The story is that some college student posted a video on YouTube and that the university is considering disciplinary action against that college student for posting the video on YouTube.

Wake up. A video by a college student made the news. Like that’s never happened before. :rolleyes:

And if she didn’t happen to have a more famous name…
A college student is a college student.
A YouTube video is a YouTube video.

Not true!

Right. I get that. That’s between the university, the student, whatever lawyers get involved, and, assuming UCLA gets state money, the State of California. It isn’t a First Amendment issue, that’s all.

Uh… no, it usually doesn’t happen. Usually, YouTube videos have absolutely no effect on anyone in the mainstream media. It’s very rare for anyone to leverage their skills on YouTube into getting on the notoriously fluffy TV news programs, let alone the somewhat more staid New York Times. Miss Wallace managed to tap into a trifecta of relevant issues: The disaster in Japan, the concept of university speech codes, and the evergreen, never-rational American obsession with race, racism, and how all of that relates to what people of various skin tones are ‘allowed’ to say.

It wasn’t that long ago that the people running the serious newsrooms, whether in print or on TV, wouldn’t have even been able to find specific content on the Internet with both hands and a search engine. The fact they can come to this debate now without lapsing into “INTERNET: THREAT OR MENACE?” rhetoric is a huge step forwards. That increased knowledge of the medium means they don’t bother with the majority of the stuff online.

The only Wallace I know of was the segregationist Governor of Alabama and perennial Presidential candidate who hasn’t even been marginally relevant since 1987. Are you claiming that she’s related to that Wallace? Are you claiming anyone actually cares whether she is?

“Art is art and water is water and east is east and west is west and when you stew cranberries like you do apples it’ll come out tasting more like prunes than rhubarb does.” – Groucho.

Well, the university decided not to discipline the student, saying that, while offensive and appalling, her tirade did not violate the university’s rules.

Wallace, though, has apparently decided to leave the university, citing a torrent of abusive messages and, allegedly, death threats, as well as people doing things like tracking down her personal information and posting it on the internet.

My take on the whole thing is:

First, if people really have been harassing her and her family, or making death threats, then that’s completely wrong. I don’t care what someone says, threats of physical harm and death are completely inappropriate.

I’m also glad that the university decided not to take action against her. As stupid and offensive as her little monologue was, it’s not the sort of speech that should be curbed by university rules. As the UCLA law professor quoted by the New York Times says, part of a university’s raison d’etre is precisely to allow for differences of opinion and the airing of unpopular views.

Finally, while death threats and harassment are wrong, i’m not going to cry too many tears if this dopey, self-important juvenile suffers some ridicule as a result of her actions. I fully support her right to express her opinion, but the principle of free speech also means that, once she hung her ass out there for everyone to see, she invited everyone else to use their own freedom of speech to tell her what a fucking douchebag she is.

One more thing:

I been a grad student and a teacher at universities on the east coast and the west coast of the United States, and i’ve done research a couple of dozen university and public libraries from Boston and New York to Madison and Chicago to Austin and San Francisco.

And i can unequivocally state that this statement from the student’s little tirade:

is utterly false.

In fact, American undergrads are possibly the demographic most likely to be found chatting away on their cellphones in places where they’re not supposed to be. The fact that she believes that such behavior is somehow endemic and unique to Asian students demonstrates either complete cluelessness, or a case of serious confirmation bias.

Thank God. I was worried it was me.

I’m having a lot of trouble following what the point of the OP is. Apparently somebody made a phone call to Japan from a library. And then somebody else in the library had an opinion and made a YouTube video about it. And then the New York Times had an opinion about the YouTube video and wrote something about it. And some other people wrote back to the NY Times with their opinions about what was written. And now Kozmik is posting that he has an opinion about the opinions expressed in the NY Times. And Libya, the Ivory Coast, and some blog are involved.

Pretty sure NYT charging for reading more than 20 articles per month online is involved somewhere.

I meant having a more famous name like Miley Cyrus. If the college student was Miley Cyrus how that would effect the story.

Yes, tracking down her personal information. That’s why I wrote that from the editorial the first thing you see is the name of the student and you can Google her name. When this story first broke on The Daily Bruin (at which point I was unaware of because I don’t check that newspaper’s website regularily) it was confined to the university campus. Now that the story made * The New York Times*, it has taken on a new meaning.

Is this some student newspaper story that leads to college students tracking down her information, giving her death threats, and her resigning from college? Yes.
Is this a New York Times news story that is more than just about a YouTube video? Yes, but that can be questioned.

This theory is definitely out there although it could plausably happen: What if she wasn’t just some dumb blonde college student posting a YouTube video? What if she was intelligent and calculating? What if she knew exactly what she was doing? What might have been mentioned in the news stories is that Wallace is a political science major. In fact, in the YouTube video, she refers to her “political science theories”. What if one of her political science theories is: how to leverage your skills on YouTube into getting the attention of the national and international media?

Japan too.

I’m not following you. UCLA is a state institution and can certainly run afoul of the frist amendment if it takes actions that violate a students free speech rights. Not saying that it happened here, but it’s not correct to say the First Amendment has nothing to do with it.

What an utterly inane and incomprehensible OP.

To be honest, even though your subsequent posts have been a little more coherent than your OP, i’m still not quite sure what the fuck your main argument is here.

Are you arguing that the New York Times shouldn’t even have covered the story? Are you arguing that they covered it badly? Are you simply meditating on the power of large media outlets to make the story bigger than it should have been? Are you arguing that this student has been treated unfairly by the media?

I disagree that the New York Times running this story gives it new meaning. It might lead to broader dissemination of the story, but the fact is that the story was bigger than just the campus newspaper anyway. The Los Angeles Times covered it, independently of any New York Times coverage, and this alone would likely have brought it to the attention of a larger audience. And you can hardly argue that the LA Times had no reason to cover the story. One-third of UCLA’s students are from families with various Asian nationality backgrounds, and the fact that this dopey bint tied in the issue of the tsunami ensured that it would get more attention than your average internet stupidity.

Also, like it or not, these sorts of incidents have strong historical resonance in the United States, and especially in a state like California, which was one of the driving forces behind late nineteenth century anti-Chinese sentiment, and which was a key player in the passing of the Chinese Exclusion Act. Hell, the 10-year extension to the Exclusion Act passed in 1892 is better known as the Geary Act, after the California congressman who wrote the law.

Not only that, but this student’s distasteful little rant actually contains language very reminiscent of some of California’s anti-Chinese sentiment. One of the first things she does is refer to the Asian students at her campus as “hordes of Asian people,” a term frequently used in the late nineteenth century to express nativist Americans’ fears of being overrun. Her nasty little story about the way that Asian families work, and about the ways that they don’t follow “American manners,” and her general “them and us” mentality, are eerily similar to exclusionist arguments that the Chinese were incapable of assimilation and would forever be a foreign cultural presence in conflict with American values.

Now, i don’t give this ignorant little twat credit for consciously incorporating these historical allusions into her rant. I’m sure her use of those terms and arguments unconsciously reflected her own narrow prejudices rather than any sustained and rigorous adherence to a historical political ideology like American nativism, but that doesn’t make it any more savory. Hell, the fact that she’s so artless and natural in her prejudices is probably even more troubling, especially from someone who is allegedly intelligent enough to be studying at a quality institution like UCLA.

As for the fact that the student’s name is now common knowledge: big fucking deal.

A lot of public information is available on just about everyone. There are websites that aggregate this sort of information for people who are willing to pay for it. Hell, if you did a diligent enough search through my whole posting history on the SDMB, you could probably find out quite a lot about me simply by putting things together and doing a bit of digging on your own. That’s just how it goes.

As i said earlier, the death threats and harassment are wrong, but the simple exposure of her identity is not. This person put herself and her stupidity out there for all to see, and did so in a way that, as Derleth suggested, resonated with some pretty important political and cultural issues in our society, as well as with a very topical and emotional story currently in the news. Now she reaps what she sowed, in the arena of public opinion.

To be quite honest, i wouldn’t be surprised if she ends up on some reality show, or gets hired by Fox to opine on the liberal hatred of free speech, or something like that. Whether this was a calculated move or not, i have no idea.

I didn’t realize it was officially a state institution. I thought it just received state money but was otherwise politically independent of the government.

It’s a free speech thing, and I think that she was punished too harshly by public criticism. Yes, ostracism is the legit response to this sort of outburst. I went to UCLA in the early 80s and the white fraternity and sorority types for some reason resented the Asian population or felt threatened by it or something and this wasn’t too far off what would have happened then. Yes, the student body will get the message, but she was just a rude, stupid and drunk 20 year old racist. I hope she learns something positive from this and recovers.

I really never understood the resentment against Asians at UCLA. By and large they came from traditional families and worked their asses off to get into UCLA and into the very competitive programs that they wanted into. If the frat crowd worked as hard at academics as they did, they would get the engineering spots they wanted. Instead they wanted to party. I don’t really want a bunch of hard partyers designing bridges and reactors when I can have some really hard working grinds doing it, regardless of skin color.

"Ohhhh. . . Ching-chong, Ling-long, Ting-tong. . . " I actually got a chuckle out of it.

Hmm. The OP is practically incomprehensible, but I have had a similar situation occur to me, so I’ll chime in.

Egypt was in chaos not so long ago, and events were unfolding very quickly. An Egyptian medical resident not used his cell phone in the Library, but also streamed the news (I don’t know how; I own a clam shell phone) on it a bit later, so that he wouldn’t miss anything. Nobody said a word, nobody minded in the least. I know this because I am the Librarian. I told him he could sit wherever the WiFi worked best for him, but to keep the volume down on his phone. He did, and we had an interesting discussion about events after he was done.
Too bad that’s not in the NY Times. What a ridiculous thing to get worked up over and what an insanely stupid thing to quit university for. I think this young woman is not quite right in the head.

Wait, so is the OP about Alexandra Wallace and the racist video she posted on YouTube or the plan by the New York Times to charge for access to its content or what?