Paper stealing shows no respect for free speech

The Daily Mississippian is free and therefore has no monetary value.
But the DM is a tangible representative of one of the principles on which our nation was founded, and therefore has an inherent worth far above the value of money.
For the second time this year, Daily Mississippians have been taken in mass numbers.
Last November, on the eve of election day, about 1,500 newspapers were reported missing from racks on the Ole Miss campus and throughout Oxford.
Last Sunday, a witness reported seeing a man remove about 20 papers from newspaper racks. According to the witness, the man refused to give him a paper when approached. A university police department officer approached the man and asked him to give the papers back.
The list goes on. In 1997, an anonymous caller told the DM editor that if a negative letter to the editor ran about an Associated Student Body candidate, he would steal the papers.
None of the culprits have faced charges, although newspaper stealing is illegal. Since no convictions have been made, we have little idea of what these thieves’ motivations were. But on each occasion, a controversial article or editorial was in the stolen papers. Someone likely did not want the public to hear the truth.
Each time a person decides that he will prevent the public from reading a “negative” piece, he attacks the integrity of the First Amendment. He commits an unforgivable breach against free speech. It is not the duty of any one person to decide what the public should or should not see.
A newspaper provides one of the most essential forums available to the public. Apparently, some people don’t understand that and have chosen to steal your forum.
The DM realizes that the large majority of its readership is committed to free speech, but a small and persistent minority continues to show its complete disregard for the rest of the public by stealing newspapers. This small minority has no principles and would rather try to hide the truth than face the consequences of what we publish.
Stealing a newspaper does little harm to The DM, but the damage it does to our concept of free speech is irreparable.

This editorial originally appeared in the Daily Mississippian on Aug. 1.