In a Texas City Sun column that ran shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, 23-year-old reporter Tom Gutting wrote a particularly harsh criticism of President Bush and his leadership skills. Shortly afterward, Gutting was fired, and the editor and publisher of the paper ran a front-page apology for the column.
Where does the right to free speech begin and end? In light of the horrific events of Sept. 11, does any American have the right to criticize President Bush? Well, yes. But there is an ocean of difference between criticism and adolescent bad-mouthing.
The right to free speech comes with the responsibility to express oneself tastefully and with respect. In journalism, each writer also has the responsibility to back up any claims with solid facts. In his article, Mr. Gutting fulfilled neither responsibility.
Throughout his entire editorial, Mr. Gutting referred to President Bush as "W." This showed blatant disrespect and kept me from taking his article seriously from that point on.
Not too much further into the piece, Mr. Gutting claimed that the country was being blindly led into war by a man who has "shown poor judgment and leadership, " but Mr. Gutting neglected to follow up this statement with actual examples.
Gutting also wrote that during the attacks, President Bush was "flying around the country, behaving like a scared child seeking refuge in his mother's bed after a nightmare," implying that because President Bush was trying to preserve his life by hiding, he is not a real and competent leader. But what good is a dead leader? It is President Bush's responsibility to preserve his life so he can fulfill his duty of leadership. And Mr. Gutting should have checked his facts -- it is national policy to protect our leader in times of danger and the decision...