Somewhere out there is a writer who got the idea of ‘what’s mine is yours’ confused with ‘what’s yours is rightfully mine.’
Several weeks ago a brown cardboard box full of magazines appeared outside of the Daily Sundial door. The question, ‘Could this be Associated Students’ latest incarnation of their magazine, ‘NoBull’?’ crossed my mind after a couple of copies made their way into the newsroom.
The magazine featured very little advertising, save for a couple of ads for alcohol, energy drinks, fraternities and sororities. It featured articles about where students can go to paint the town red, and ‘College Survival ‘How To’ Guide,’ which instructs students how to sound like a sports expert, fake an orgasm and siphon gas. More specifically, the brief how-to piece laments Porsche owners’ bigger wallets and justifies theft of their fuel on that account.
My Nissan Sentra is by no far any comparison to a Boxter, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m entitled to a piece of that shiny, fast pie. As for the orgasm bit, students’ sex lives are their own business and I’d much rather not think about other people getting it on (or off) anyway.
But wait, there’s an article encouraging breaking something called the ‘law’? The last time I checked, there were no specific laws against siphoning gasoline from another vehicle. There is, however, a little definition for ‘theft,’ which is the intent to permanently deprive the owner of their property, according to California criminal law.
Under all the legalese, ‘theft’ is taking what is not yours.
The First Amendment is a wonderful thing; it allows everything from the Los Angeles Times to the Anarchist’s Cookbook to exist, but it can also be a double-edged sword. It is not illegal to print a how-to guide on how to spice it up in the bedroom, but it is morally wrong to encourage taking other people’s things.
Maybe the CSU administration felt for our suffering bank accounts ‘- the Governator’s budget is spending more to increase university enrollment, so it’s hardly a surprise that we still can’t find parking despite the building of new structures or get into classes to graduate in 5.5 years. Could it be that perhaps CSUN figured its students could use the magazine’s advice?
Not so, according to the Matador Involvement Center, the department that handles requests to distribute flyers, magazines and other publications. Distributors must ask permission first before they leave reading material for students, and this particular magazine wasn’t approved, said Vicki Allen, assistant director of student involvement. Unless they are given permission and designated to a specific location, publications that are left for students to take are a violation of MIC’s distribution policy and may also be safety and fire hazards. The First Amendment (a.k.a. free speech) does come into play for flyers and other literature that are handed out in person, and that type of activity is allowed.
Further, according to A.S., the magazine has no connection to their student-run publication.
President Miguel Segura and Vice President Nicole Umali had not previously seen the off-campus magazine, nor had they approved promotion of their events in its pages, they said in a brief meeting.
The media is not obligated to be a moral gatekeeper, but it should realize that a fine line exists between providing information and promoting illegal activities. Times are hard and everyone from Wall Street brokers to broke freshmen are suffering in the financial crisis our country is drowning in. Attempting to be a frugal student does not justify depriving another person of something they have worked hard for, whether it is gasoline or otherwise. Further, readers should exercise common sense before blaming an article for their criminal misdeeds.
Perhaps this is just a case of that old German proverb that goes, ‘When the thief is seen stealing, he says he is joking; but when the thief is not seen, he steals.’ But if you ever come back to an empty tank after a long hard day of classes, think of it this way: You won’t have to move your car, and you’ll have at least secured a parking spot for tomorrow, thanks to a little college survival ‘how to’ guide.