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Thoughtcrime at UNC-Chapel Hill

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A UNC-Chapel Hill student has been fired from the school newspaper, at the demand of the radical Islamic front group known as the Muslim Students Association: Daily Tar Heel Columnist Fired. (Hat tip: Daniel.)

CHAPEL HILL – A UNC-Chapel Hill student was fired from The Daily Tar Heel, the school’s student newspaper, Wednesday after she wrote a column on airport security that maintained Arabs should be “stripped naked and cavity-searched if they get within 100 yards of an airport.”

Jillian Bandes, a junior from Florida, was the author of the column that ran in Tuesday’s edition of the school paper. She says she was just stating her opinion on airport security in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and was never given an opportunity from The Daily Tar Heel editors to defend herself.

In an interview with the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy she said the column was based on a trip she took to Israel sponsored by The Foundation for the Defense of Democracy, a Washington, D.C., think tank that attempts to educate the public on terrorism-related issues. She also included comments from Arab students and a professor who supported racial profiling.

“I don’t care if they’re being inconvenienced,” Bandes wrote. “I don’t care if it seems as though their rights are being violated. I care about my life. I care about the lives of my family and friends. And I care about the lives of the Arabs and Arab-Americans I’m privileged to know and study with. They’re some of the brightest, kindest people I’ve ever met.”

After running a letter to the editor Wednesday from the Muslim Students Association denouncing the column and questioning the validity of some of the comments in the article, Chris Coletta, opinion editor for The Daily Tar Heel, met with Bandes Wednesday afternoon to inform her of her termination. Bandes said she was never given an opportunity to write a column apologizing to offended students, a practice that has precedent with the paper. She said that was going to be the topic of her next column.

Bandes was fired after writing just three columns for The Daily Tar Heel.

UPDATE at 9/16/05 7:55:49 am:

Courtesy of reader tedzilla, here is the column in question: It’s sad, but racial profiling is necessary for our safety.

Editor Chris Coletta claims he fired Jillian Bandes because she used quotes from Arab students and professors. Were the quotes false, or inaccurate? Well, no … but she used them “recklessly and thoughtlessly:” Opinion Editor justifies firing of Tuesday columnist.

And here’s the public editor’s similar excuse, wrapped in a paper-thin veneer of “journalistic ideals:” DTH editors right to fire columnist.

Notice how they don’t even mention the pressure from the Muslim Students Association.

UPDATE at 9/16/05 10:09:54 am:

An opposing view, at The Locker Room.

UPDATE at 9/16/05 10:16:51 am:

Here’s what Jillian Bandes has to say about it: DTH not transparent about controversial termination. (Hat tip: tedzilla.)

My sources agreed with racial profiling, and I simply added my two cents.

I was also fired for apparently misleading my sources on what I was writing about. I thought I had made it clear that my article was about both 9/11 and racial profiling when I spoke to each individual.

As I wrote, I focused more on the latter topic. And I regret misleading them, even if I had no intentions of doing so.

But after asking each source several times what he thought of racial profiling, even if I did not explicitly tell them, I would’ve thought that they would understand what a large focus of my article would be about.

I’m deeply saddened that my sources have been harassed and have received death threats. I’m slightly put off by the profanity and hatred that has been thrown my way, and I’m extremely resentful for being called racist.

Note: her sources were harassed and received death threats, yet no other article I’ve read on this subject has mentioned it.

Here is the letter from the Muslim Students Association: Columnist was offensive, inaccurate, disrespectful.

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