Campus paper apologizes for anti-social justice op-ed, cites JOURNALISM ETHICS

Appalachian State University’s student newspaper apologized recently for publishing an op-ed by one of its writers, titled, “Eye-for-an-eye social justice hurts innocent people.” 

Written by student Connor Hughes, the original op-ed in The Appalachian is a thorough discussion of what Hughes finds to be fundamental contradictions between social justice and American jurisprudence. In the piece, Hughes admits that while well-intended, social justice is reliant on “flawed logical and philosophical arguments” that directly conflict with core American principles.

Hughes goes on to claim that American jurisprudence aims to provide justice for the individual, as opposed to groups, which he alleges social justice addresses. The student cites social justice attempting to hold the descendants of slave owners accountable and provide reparations to the descendants of slaves. 

Hughes argues that this notion is in opposition to the American justice system’s protection and advancement of individual rights.

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“The classic eye-for-an-eye approach to social justice is also irrational,” the student claims. “The only way to make up for an act would be the act itself. Do we want a society that swaps historical injustices?”

Hughes’ piece elicited mostly negative feedback from readers.

Appalachian State student Taylor Gibbs insisted the article “expresses borderline white supremacist views,” claiming that group justice is sometimes necessary.  Other users called the piece “garbage fire” and suggested that Hughes, a political science major, would make it on the Supreme Court because of his white skin.

In an apology to the Appalachian’s readers, the paper’s editorial board called Hughes’ article an “uninformed and ambiguous argument.” In addition, the editorial board claimed that the op-ed did not follow the Society for Professional Journalists’ (SPJ) code of ethics provision to avoid causing harm, stating that the “piece was harmful to people who are marginalized on campus.”

The editorial board did not elaborate on how exactly Hughes’ piece caused these individuals harm.

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“We have begun efforts to ensure we are more thorough in our editing process and sensitive to race and minority issues in the future,” the board said, noting it has planned “relevant training” for the paper’s staff.

Neither Hughes nor the editorial board responded to a request for comment in time for publication. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AlexTokie