Since taking on my position at the Mirror, I’ve been contemplating the purpose of the Forum section and its place within this publication. What is certain is that this section is a place for free and open discussion about issues concerning the student body, whether on a campus level or a global one.
In a social media era, anyone can publish to a public platform. In many ways, this is a really great thing because it opens conversations that never would have been possible in the same way before the internet.
We can connect to experiences and perspectives all around the world. When these conversations go well, they lead to broader, more global views and perhaps a better understanding of the world. However, when they don’t, they have the possibility of spreading misinformation and hate.
I see it as my responsibility to preserve the integrity of this section and of this publication, and for that reason I will strive to publish only arguments made in good faith that avoid misleading or incorrect information to the best of my ability. Hate speech, in op-eds submitted to the section or in comments online or on social media, will not be tolerated.
What makes this section unique is that it is a place where anyone, no matter their background, can engage in the important conversations of our time.
That being said, something that has concerned me about this section in the short time that I have been writing and working for the Mirror is the way the conversation sometimes falls prey to logical fallacies, ad hominem attacks in particular.
Argumentative pieces are strengthened when they address the opposing viewpoint, and I believe that doing so is an essential part of having a productive debate. However, I also believe that it is the viewpoint that should be attacked, not the person behind it. It is possible to disagree with someone and still treat them with dignity and respect.
I would be a terrible opinion editor if I didn’t publish opinions that aren’t my own and even those I actively disagree with. I will always strive to keep my personal beliefs out of the work that I put into each writer’s piece.
An opinion section, by its very nature, doesn’t emphasize objective truth. Instead a variety of viewpoints and perspectives have the opportunity to come to the forefront. In short, the Forum section, to me, is a reflection of the student body as it is, one that comes from the students and is in their own voices.