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Canadian Forces ads, and now CSIS . . .

by Archives March 11, 2008

It has been three weeks since The Concordian began printing ads for the Canadian Forces. In all that time, Concordia’s activist component has remained remarkably quiet. Not a single letter has been sent in protest of what once would have been considered an outrage to the more sensitive, dovish spirit of the ‘progressive’ element of this school.
With the exception of one considerate and thoughtful visitor, the few, the very few, voices raised by those who consider themselves the guardians of the once-strong flame of the true Concordia, have sounded the alarm at this latest sign of capitalism’s stealthy encroachment on the unformed minds of its student body.
Their argument, to paraphrase, goes something like this: advertising is bad, either because it brainwashes students into unnecessary wants and fabricated needs, or simply because it leads them in the wrong direction.
There is a third option, of course, which holds that advertising, like advice and conventional wisdom, is just another source of information for those confident enough in their ability to clearly discern what they know and stand for. But we will leave the obvious appeal of that slightly more rational argument for the present.
For now, it is worthwhile spending some time looking at the first two positions because they tell us quite a bit about the state of activist culture – or what remains of it – at Concordia today.
The crux of the question is whether or not we trust in students’ abilities to think critically, or whether we believe that we should censor what they can and cannot see in a vague belief that students should be shielded from certain kinds of information, such as ads for Canada’s Defense Forces and CSIS.
This second view presupposes that we hold some sort of ethical position superior to theirs, and that we reserve the right to enforce it on them merely because we publish a newspaper.
To those who would object to publishing such ads, I ask this: do you object to all advertising in principle because advertising itself is bad, or do you object only to ads for companies or institutions with which you disagree?
A good policy for any self-respecting newspaper, as understood by our editorial staff, is to trust its readership to draw its own ethical and moral conclusions, and to believe in their good judgement and discretion.
As a newspaper, The Concordian does not support nor promote in its pages anything unlawful or illegal, in any form. But as to whether we will draw an ethical line in the sand for our readers in military matters, I can only say that we are not the arbiters of our readers’ moral compasses.

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