Big-Brain Nit-Pickers or Walt Whitman?

Published: 1993-02-28

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The Eagle is the student newspaper at American University, a private institution in Washington. The Eagle, a weekly, has a circulation of 10,000.

In the 28 January issue we ran a one-column, four-inch advertisement for Arthur Butz's Hoax of the Twentieth Century. I paid up front for the ad to run for five weeks and intended for it to run on through April when the Holocaust Memorial Museum will open on the Washington mall. When the ad ran the first time, the backlash from The Lobby was so strong that the paper refused to run it a second time.

Contrary to last year, when advertising and editorial staffs thought they had an obligation to print CODOH ads on First Amendment grounds, this year it's different. Students and administrations both have been convinced that they should attend to the letter of the First Amendment but not its spirit.

I go at it the other way. My character is Whitmanesque. Whitman was queer, but he wrote a good book anyhow. A lot of my cultural heroes walked the crooked line. Whitman said his words mean nothing while the drift of them means everything. That's how I read the First Amendment. We all know what it really means. Even the Hillel rabbis.

Additional information about this document
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Author(s): Bradley R. Smith
Title: Big-Brain Nit-Pickers or Walt Whitman?
Sources: Smith's Report, no. 13, January/February 1993, p. 5
Published: 1993-02-28
First posted on CODOH: Aug. 31, 2015, 7:57 a.m.
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