Attack on U.Va. should not make us question free speech

Published 1:06 pm Saturday, June 6, 2015

To the Editor:

The infamous and reprehensible Rolling Stone article attacking The University of Virginia and indirectly attacking the thousands of truly remarkable men and women who were educated and matured at Mr. Jefferson’s University, is a source of anger and resentment to many. It is absolutely astounding that given the total repudiation of the article by the Columbia School of Journalism, by the Charlottesville Police Department and many others, Rolling Stone magazine would refuse to terminate the employment of the so called journalist, who refused to follow the most fundamental requirements of their profession.

Notwithstanding this travesty, the obvious question is what would Mr. Jefferson think? Of course, he would be deeply hurt and offended. The university is beyond any question the crowning achievement of his life — much more important than being a member of the General Assembly, being Governor of Virginia or even being President of the United States. However, a study of Mr. Jefferson’s life and philosophy clearly evidences his commitment to the sacred ideals of the First Amendment. Indeed, more than any other American, by all accounts, Thomas Jefferson was and is the architect of American freedom. Even in these trying times of confrontation by reckless and wanton journalism, manifested in an unjustified, unsubstantiated and false attack on his university, he would not question the wisdom of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution or of American freedom of speech in general. His faith in the ability of the people to ascertain the truth was unconditional. Even the hurtful nature of the journalism exhibited by Rolling Stone does not in any way, shape or form, justify a departure from the commands of the First Amendment. We owe this to the architect of American freedom.

By the way, I went to U.Va.

Richard E. Railey Jr.