Stolen papers an act of Censorship? - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Stolen papers an act of Censorship?

By Bob Hallmark - bio | email

COMMERCE, TX (KLTV) - Was it a harmless college prank, or a violation of the constitution?That's what some are debating on the campus of an east Texas college, after the theft of the college newspaper.

It happened last Thursday on the campus of Texas A&M University in Commerce, north of Sulphur Springs.

The headline for last Thursday's edition of the East Texan, the Texas A&M Commerce school paper, was about two Commerce football players arrested on drug charges. 

Within 25 minutes of distribution all 2,000 issues disappeared; police say, stolen. "Between 7 and 8 a.m. all of the newspapers on campus disappeared. You have the wages of the staff you have the printing cost, you have the advertising revenue, you lose out on if all those newspapers are taken," says managing editor and A&M Commerce senior Jessica Rush.

Students identified members of the football team as the ones who had taken all of the issues off the racks, "It was a bold move on their part," Rush says.

"I knew there would be some backlash but my initial thoughts were more just anger. Groups who get negative press coverage think they can just walk out and steal all the newspapers and that eliminates it that's not true" says editor James Bright.

Cameras at the campus police station even caught two of the suspected thieves on tape.

"We really do take it seriously what the east Texan does is very important and for another set of student's to not respect that and not respect what they do there's kind of a life lesson there that you respect the press you respect free speech" says Randy Jolly, assistant vice president Texas A&M university Commerce.

Bright says former NFL player and head football coach Guy Morriss, had a surprising response to the theft, "He said he's proud of his players for doing this, he's proud" Bright says.

Papers cost 25 cents after the first free issue, but some say there's a larger issue at hand.
"You're preventing the dissemination of information to the public readership when you do that you are in violation of the first amendment this is a form of censorship," Bright says.

The case will be turned over to the Hunt County prosecutor.

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