Free speech doesn’t mandate ‘free’ funding

To the Editor:

Re: “On free speech, a lot lies behind the scenes” (3/2): While we appreciate Mr. Farago’s condolences on this year’s thefts of The Yale Free Press, his argument suffers from several factual and logical errors.

First, though he agrees that “there is no shortage of publications at Yale,” Farago maintains that the YFP has a numerical advantage over Yale’s liberal publications, which are “silenced” for lack of funds. Out of 36 student publications at Yale, two are explicitly conservative–whatever your definition of “fair,” this is anything but disproportionate. Next, the “absurdly high number” of 5,200 issues he cites is misleading: It encompasses both the first print run and a reprint of the November issue, which was necessary to replace the wholesale theft of the first 3,600 copies. Compared, for instance, to the Herald, which prints 20,000 issues monthly, our output hardly seems “well-nigh-infinite.”

As Farago notes, The Yale Free Press indeed receives most of its funding from the Collegiate Network. In 22 years, we have never received funding from the University. The grant is our only way to cover the bare costs of printing, and it is not a blind giveaway: We must re-apply for it yearly, by proving the quality and reliability of our publication. Beyond that, we earn money for additional issues, events, and other expenses by fundraising among alumni and selling ads. Is Farago condemning the fact that we are funded from outside the University or implying an ideological conspiracy? If he means the latter, perhaps he would like to state this explicitly. CN has never attempted to censor The Yale Free Press, but if Farago’s ultimate dispute is with our views, we would be happy to debate them openly.

Lastly, his translation of the negative right to free and unsuppressed speech into a positive one — the sudden call for every political opinion to be backed up by equal amounts of money — simply does not follow. No free speech policy has ever stated, “You have the right to think whatever you want, and to demand that people pay you to write it down and distribute it.” Farago’s stated goal is to foster “thinking, discussing, and challenging,” but his proposal would defy the point of a negative right — to give ideas a forum to live and die on their merit and popular appeal.



Diana Feygin ’06

Karen Burke ’06

March 2, 2005

The writers are editor in chief and publisher, respectively, of The Yale Free Press.

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