My most recent article published in The Columbia Missourian received a pretty heavy-handed comment wherein the author wished a snub-nose revolver be fired. At me.
The comment has since been deleted, but it was in response to my article about the then-latest status of the concealed-carry House bill. The Missouri Senate Judiciary Committee held a public hearing for a bill that would expand the castle doctrine and remove provisions that prohibit concealed carry on college campuses. Five witnesses gave public testimony, all of whom were in favor of the legislation.
One of the witnesses was Isaiah Kellogg, a Ph.D student at the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, Mo. During his public testimony, Kellogg said he has carried a concealed-carry license since 2005, keeps his gun in his car trunk while he is on campus and wants to be able to carry his gun on campus since he intends to teach at universities after finishing his degree.
After the hearing adjourned after 10 minutes and with no executive session (i.e., vote), I literally jumped out of my chair to catch Kellogg so I could ask him a few more questions.
Near the bottom of my article, I wrote the following about Kellogg:
Isaiah Kellogg, who has spent 10 years at Missouri S&T and intends to teach at a university after earning his degree, said he supports the bill because it would increase campus safety.
“I am going to be in academia for the foreseeable future — that will be my career — so I will be on university campuses for most of my life until I retire,” Kellogg said in his public testimony. “So this is very important to me, to have the ability to protect myself.”
Kellogg has held a concealed-carry license since March 2005 and usually carries a snub-nosed revolver, which he must keep in the trunk of his car when he is on campus. Kellogg said Missouri S&T’s code of conduct does not allow concealed weapons on campus, and if the legislation passes, the university is not obligated to change its code of conduct. But if the bill passes, Kellogg said students can argue for concealed carry with the university board.
“We’ve taken down the legal barrier,” Kellogg said, speaking hypothetically. “Now, we have to take down the code-of-conduct barrier.”
The first comment I received is the comment in question. The author wrote the following:
Kellogg has held a concealed-carry license since March 2005 and usually carries a snub-nosed revolver, which he must keep in the trunk of his car when he is on campus.
I’m sure that Mr.Kellogg appreciates this reporter letting criminals KNOW where to get a free gun whenever he is on campus. Let’s just hope that the first person that has to face this weapon is the “reporter” that so willingly disclosed this information.
Someone wants me dead.
I understand the author’s point, but I absolutely don’t think it’s reason to want me to face a lethal weapon. And even if the comment wasn’t meant to be taken completely seriously, it’s still out of line to wish death upon someone. My editors agreed, and so — after I alerted them to the comment — the comment was removed.
My immediate editor, Phill, called me after he read my e-mail and said he requested the removal of the comment for two main reasons.
- The comment was directed at a student who is preparing herself for a career in which, unfortunately, many professionals are constantly under fire and in danger of harm or death.
- The Missourian should not have allowed such a comment advocating the injury or death of one of its reporters to be published on its own Web site.
I can’t really argue against either, but I’m also biased.
On a tangential but related note: Normally, I despise prior review/censorship of content in journalistic publications, regardless of whether that content is an article or reader-submitted. But also normally, I think readers should submit only content that they don’t mind their grandmothers reading.
So, do I agree with Phill’s second point? Again — I’m biased. But I’m not sure that a system wherein a Missourian editor filters all the incoming comments before allowing them to be posted is the best solution, either.
It’s perhaps worth noting that the article published by Columbia’s other daily paper, The Columbia Daily Tribune, led with the fact that Kellogg keeps his gun in his car trunk while on campus:
JEFFERSON CITY — Isaiah Kellogg, 27, carries a snub-nosed revolver for personal protection, but when he goes onto the campus of the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, he stores it in a safe bolted to the frame of his car.
Kellogg, a doctoral student in mechanical and ceramic engineering, would prefer to carry the gun on campus, too, for his own safety. Last night, he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in favor of a legislative provision that would allow the carrying of concealed weapons at higher education institutions.
Read Full Post »