Widgets Magazine


Letter from the editor: On intentionality in our Robert Spencer coverage

You’ve probably heard by now that the Stanford College Republicans are bringing Robert Spencer to campus, and you’ve likely even read about it in our publication. We’ve covered Spencer’s upcoming speaking event in our news section, and we have published op-eds from community members with all sorts of opinions on the event. And this morning, we ran a full-page ad written by Spencer himself and supported by the David Horowitz Freedom Center.

It’s a controversial topic, and we want to be transparent about why we are covering the event in the ways that we are.

In some ways, it seems inevitable that the debate over free speech on college campuses would come to Stanford; it’s why before Spencer’s visit to campus was even announced, our Editorial Board took on the issue of free speech in an age of intentional controversy. We found that as a college newspaper, we have “a duty to defend free speech, but we also recognize that we bear a certain responsibility in promoting speech that is constructive and useful.”

Here’s what this means for our coverage at The Stanford Daily.

1. We will continue to report on Spencer with intentionality.

Our news section will cover both the Stanford College Republicans’ event and any rallies and other forms of protest that arise in relation to the event. As a publication, we write about student group events and prominent speakers every week. The Stanford College Republicans’ event fits into these categories. We also always have our eye out for campus activism and student reception to speaker events; thus, we will likewise cover any related protests.

2. We will continue to share and protect all community voices.

Op-eds published in The Daily are, by nature, intended to share community voices, not represent our paper, and so we will continue to run op-ed submissions from different perspectives on the Spencer issue. This assumes, of course, that submissions meet our usual standards of quality and do not contain threatening language or hate speech. It also means that those who are brave enough to share their voices will be protected from threatening language and hate speech of the variety that sometimes pops up in the comment section — we can and will ban users.

3. We will donate Spencer’s ad money to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

The ASSU Senate decided to fund security costs for the Stanford College Republicans event because its job is to support all student groups and provide equal opportunity. However, the ASSU explicitly did not endorse (and even criticized) Spencer’s ideological preachings. Likewise, The Stanford Daily is doing its job to promote free speech and open dialogue by allowing Spencer to respond to claims made about him in our paper. However, we support our Muslim readers and community members, and we do not seek to profit from hateful ideology. Instead, we will use this money to support ICIJ, a group that works to cover quality, border-crossing investigative stories in a time when— as Spencer’s event demonstrates — global issues are more locally relevant than ever.

4. We are paying careful attention to other campus news and urge you to do so, too.

Just as we remain committed to covering Spencer-related news, we remain dedicated to not sensationalizing the topic, either. Last week, I was interviewed by a local TV station that repeatedly asked leading questions suggesting that as a news editor, I would be happy about the controversy and potential action on campus. I found this astounding.

Islamophobia and free speech are important topics, but sensationalization can overwhelm other ethically important issues. In just the last week or two, we have also reported on sexual assault allegations against Stanford professors and the lowering of financial burdens to Stanford applicants. These stories affect the community substantially — and we suspect that Spencer’s arrival to campus won’t magically stop other significant news events from occurring.

My guess is as good as anyone’s as to what precise events will unfold over the course of Spencer’s visit. What I can say with certainty is that we value providing a service to our community and will continue striving to do so in the most intentional and conscientious way possible.

Ada Statler

Editor-in-chief, Volume 252



About Ada Statler

Ada Statler '18 is an earth systems major hailing from Kansas City (on the Kansas side, not Missouri). She's most passionate about environmental journalism, but cares about all things campus-related.
  • Nessie

    Oh Ada – you had me right up until the word, “Islamophobia.” So close.

  • David

    Spencer describes himself as an Islamophobe, so why is this word not germane to the conversation?

  • Nessie

    Spencer calls himself an “Islamophobe” with the technique of injecting dark humor, into a serious issue, for book promotion.

    To paraphrase one of the brave co-founders of ex-Muslims of North America (EXMNA), Sarah Haider, (who came into the spotlight during her speech, “Islam and the Necessity of Liberal Critique”), Islamophobia is a word we should distance ourselves from as it conflates the real and problematic issues of anti-Muslim bigotry with the equally real issue of concern of Islamic doctrine and the way it is practiced in much of the Muslim world.

    In this piece from the editorial staff, the word is written, “Islamophobia and free speech are important topics . . . ”

    Whereas Ada didn’t use the word “Islamophobia” with either dark humor nor with the sensitivity of understanding that Islam has caused lots of harm on Muslims and non-Muslims while calling for the death of all Jews in the end of days – emphasized by a Davis imam this past summer, the usage, “Islamophobia” in this scenario is a way of belittling people and discrediting legitimate concerns of this very severe ideology.

    To further answer your question – it is germane to the conversation more or less by providing the results to a litmus test as to how intellectually honest one is willing to be when addressing Islam, its influence in the horrors continuing today in violent extremes in much of Asia and Africa, originating 1400 years ago, and the danger of its expansion in the West, enabled by the silence, or bullying into silence, by those who might otherwise be compassionate.

  • Nessie

    A nice expose could be discussing how anti-Israel smearing is leading to Antisemitism on campus. Canary Mission mentions a few professors, one who founded Jewish Voice of Peace, which is a jihadi group and rather the antithesis of peaceful (with a veneer to fool the easily satisfied).

    And then, when moseying to a previous article in the Stanford Daily written by a Jewish student called, “Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and fine lines,” one can see a response from a talkback, applauding her insistence that she is distanced from Israel [ie, so shouldn’t have to feel the brunt of Antisemitism]. It doesn’t take too much time in the talkbacks to understand why Jewish students linked to a wonderful but imperfect country should feel shame on Stanford’s campus. The UCCM Campus Minister at Stanford University is the poster who rather applauded her on her efforts by saying, ” . . . I think separating Jewish identity from Israel as a state is very important.”

    Read that again.

    When the United Nations (UNESCO) is officially referring to Jewish holy sites by their newer Islamic names, and there has been physical jihad against the Jewish people of the Ottoman region of Palestine long before the Holocaust – anyone who cares about truth and non-Islamic cultural preservation ought to be concerned.

    So – the big news, the cool news here, is that a man who is naturally concerned about Islamic violence and developmental dysfunction is causing a ruckus with his visit – while Antisemites (Jewish or not) who aim to strangle exclusively the only democracy in a sea of human rights pits – soldier on quietly, no news, ordained by employment of one of the most elite universities in the country – quietly and successfully shaming Jewish students to believe anti-Israel rhetoric with no questioning in the way that some want people to believe Islam is a religion of peace with no questioning.

    Stanford is not unique – but since this is the Stanford Daily and that is genuine news – that is my focus for this post and it could be prudent to be a focus for an article.

    Nefarious manipulation is going on. Some of you are starting to realize it.

  • Pedro Rabaçal

    Months ago, when the Panama Papers Affair exposed many corrupt businesspeople and polititians around the world.

    Russian media hated the expusure of Putain´s pals, so it called it Putinophobia.

    Phobia is the new excuse to shut up critics and truth seekers.

  • Steve Dowling

    Editor-In-Chief Statler, in item #2 of the objectives, mentions “hate speech”. So can I assume devout, orthodox, fully-obedient Stanford Muslims quoting Qur’an Chapter 9 (29, 73, 111, 123) commanding Allah’s violence against Infidels & promising Paradise to those who slay and are slain [Verse 111] would not meet “…our usual standards of quality” ? Or would Ms. Statler permit an exception in this particular situation, because, for the world’s Leftists, Islam is the ideology always immune from inspection? This is special pleading. When we ponder motive, it derives from hidden acknowledgement by panicked defenders: “Yes, Muslims really DO engage in pathological slaughter on a daily basis. However we cannot ever admit it.” So the circus of middle-school level academic embarrassment drags on.

  • dhorowitz10

    Publishing slanders of a speaker in advance is not reporting “with intentionality.” It’s reporting with slanders designed to discredit a speaker and forestall students evaluating what he has to say for themselves. And don’t pat yourself on the back for publishing an ad we paid $1800 for. You can do that when you offer Spencer a column to defend and express himself. Right now, you’re part of the problem – the assault on free speech on our campuses.

  • Nessie

    “Likewise, The Stanford Daily is doing its job to promote free speech and open dialogue by allowing Spencer to respond to claims made about him in our paper.” Is “open dialogue” a paid ad? I suspected from the way it was written that Spencer would do it as part of a report after his speech.

  • Nessie

    Hm. I saw the advertisement on Spencer’s site but I haven’t seen it in this paper. I’m guessing it is here, somewhere, but difficult to find. If it is an ad, there should be a visible link bringing readers to it.

  • freedomfrind

    Since Spencer’s event was interrupted, everyone at Stanford should be come a regular reader of Jihad Watch. Read and learn.

  • Steve Dowling

    HELLO MR. HOROWITZ —- I discovered Jihad Watch and its counter-jihad sister blog (www [dot] pamelageller [dot] com about 7 years ago. Pamela Geller is, as I have often written in posts at JW, the most courageous civilian in our United States. She, Robert, you, the brilliant Daniel Greenfield, Jamie Glazov, Frank Gaffney, Bill Warner, David Wood, and many others whose names I am omitting, are ceaseless combatants in a war of subjugation and slaughter — which Muhammad started. The privileged, and, to be honest, snot-nose-immature male students throwing tantrums on the Stanford campus wouldn’t live 5 minutes if they bumped into a fully-obedient worshipper of bloodthirsty Allah. And, of course, the females would be taken as sex slaves. Those 2 characteristics — murder and enslavement — are how we know the Religion Of Peace has come to visit.