Oklahoma State Editor Reportedly Forced Out Due To Anti-Mask Mandate Editorial

We have been discussing how student publications are firing writers and editors who write columns espousing dissenting views on police abuse or other subjects. This pattern has repeatedly itself at Wisconsin, Syracuse, and other schools. Student columnists have been formally condemned at schools like Georgetown and both faculty and students have sought to eliminate whole publications at schools like Dartmouth as “incubators of hate.” Now, the editor-in-chief at a student newspaper at Oklahoma State University, Maddison Farris, says that she was forced out due to her writing a column criticizing a mask mandate on campus.

Farris wrote a column for The O’Colly after she was removed from a classroom for not wearing a mask. She noted that Senate Bill 658, affirms that a mask cannot be required within a school setting in Oklahoma. She said that her stance was based on individual choice:

“If I believed that it was just a mask, then, of course, I would simply wear it for an hour or two and then go about my day. But it is more than a mask. It’s control. It’s control over my choices, desires and body. I will not allow any institution to take away my right to decide for myself what is best and to make my own decisions, or to take away the rights and decisions of others.”

One can clearly disagree with this view and courts have upheld school mandates, though state laws can trump such policies or rules. However, this is all part of a larger debate that has deeply divided this nation.

It is the reaction to the column that is so disconcerting. First, the O’Colly’s editorial board added a “correction” to the article that is more of a rebuttal. It states that the column did not tell the “whole story” and proceeds to give the other side. As a practice, such views (signed by the other editors) would have been more properly included in a separate editorial. However, the editors picked up on the trend in social media to use “flags” and “corrections” to label opposing views as misinformation.

I have no problem with the content of what the other editors wrote. Indeed, I believe that it offered a valuable counter perspective on this issue. However, it is not a correction. Moreover, I doubt that all of the newspaper’s past columns were “complete” in presenting the entirety of opposing views. The selective treatment of this column is, for that reason, concerning.

However, the greatest concern is what allegedly occurred next.  Farris says that she was confronted in a meeting and effectively forced off the newspaper. She submitted a letter of “forced resignation.

The “correction” seems ripped from the pages of the New York Times. When Sen. Tom Cotton published an opinion column calling for the use of national guard troops to quell rioting in Washington, he cited a long history in the deployment of such troops by Democratic and Republican presidents. The column was factually correct.  However, journalists denounced the column and the protest ultimately led to the removal of the editor as well as a cringing apology from the Times. Notably, the newspaper claimed the same unexplained inaccuracies or errors in the column. It never bothered to respond to some of us who noted that, while we disagreed with Cotton on the policy, the column contained a fair accounting of the history of the use of the underlying law.

Former New York Times Magazine reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones was one of the journalists who pushed the New York Times to denounce its own publication and promise to curtail columns in the future. In so doing, she railed against those who engage in what she called “even-handedness, both sideism” journalism.  Hannah-Jones however later tweeted out an utterly absurd anti-police conspiracy that lacked any factual support.  She suggested that the destruction by protesters was actually the work of the police. That type of ridiculous claim (later deleted) by Hannah-Jones did not lead to a call for her resignation or any statement of condemnation from the newspaper or her colleagues. Hannah-Jones now teaches journalism.

Faculty and editors are now actively supporting modern versions of book-burning with blacklists and bans for those with opposing political views. Columbia Journalism School Dean Steve Coll has denounced the “weaponization” of free speech, which appears to be the use of free speech by those on the right. So the dean of one of the premier journalism schools now supports censorship. It is part of a widespread anti-free speech movement. As millions of students are taught that free speech is a threat and that “China is right” about censorship, these values are shaping a new society in their own intolerant images.

The most chilling aspect of this story is how many on left applaud such censorship. A new poll shows roughly half of the public supporting not just corporate censorship but government censorship of anything deemed “misinformation.”

I was also disappointed that the university did not issue a statement over the need for greater tolerance for opposing or dissenting opinions. However, as we have seen in other recent cases, universities are often silent in defense of free speech when conservative students are harassed or sanctioned by other students.

The students of Oklahoma State appear to have learned from professional writers and editors who are now actively excluding or expelling those with dissenting views. There was a successful effort to push writer Andrew Sullivan out of New York Magazine and Vox.  Sullivan noted:

And maybe it’s worth pointing out that “conservative” in my case means that I have passionately opposed Donald J. Trump and pioneered marriage equality, that I support legalized drugs, criminal-justice reform, more redistribution of wealth, aggressive action against climate change, police reform, a realist foreign policy, and laws to protect transgender people from discrimination. I was one of the first journalists in established media to come out. I was a major and early supporter of Barack Obama. I intend to vote for Biden in November.

It did not matter. Sullivan reported that colleagues said that they felt unsafe working in the same building with him because he questioned aspects of current protests or demands. As we previously discussed, Bari Weiss was also the victim of such a campaign at the New York Times and now writes on Substack.

As professional journalists embrace advocacy journalism, it is not surprising to see student journalists adopting the same self-destructive values. However, it is disheartening to see the lack of sensitivity or protection for opposing values and views by students. Given the faux correction and later removal, it rings rather hallow when these editors declare:

We welcome any and all opinions offering rebuttal of this column, and do not wish to diminish any opinion. As American citizens, we affirm our belief in the First Amendment and the right as journalists to express our personal opinions no matter if our viewpoint is different from those around us.

101 thoughts on “Oklahoma State Editor Reportedly Forced Out Due To Anti-Mask Mandate Editorial”

  1. The virus kills a small percentage of the people it infects. Most Americans will simply be ill like any other virus and recover with bed rest and fluids. So why does EVERYONE, have to have their lives shut down, have to hand over their health decisions for their own bodies to the state and their employers, because of the irrational fear of others.

    And it is irrational fear.

    Even if what they are telling us is true, and the “virus” has killed half a million Americans, which we know it hasn’t, those numbers are greatly exaggerated by rolling in “covid related” deaths (like people who die of cancer because the hospital beds are all full of Covid patients supposedly) but lets pretend they are accurate and half a million died in a year and a half from it. We have 400 million people in the country. That is a tiny fraction of the population. So your chances are pretty slim of dying. MOST people’s chances of dying are slim.

    So why do we have to shut down the majority, to appease the minority?

    Why doesn’t the minority, accept the restrictions they want to put on everyone and just stay the hell home, wear their masks to bed and wrap their homes in bubble wrap if they choose?

    Why don’t they stay home, why don’t THEY wear the masks, why don’t THEY get the vaccine, and leave the rest of us the hell alone to make our own informed health choices?

    Why do the many have to bend to the few?

  2. This has been very interesting. 107+ comments
    Right here on this blog, an active debate about the efficacy of masks.
    Lots of dueling science, Lots of studies, tests, controlled experiments and quotes from people of science on both sides of the subject.

    That is how things used to work.
    Then Democrats stopped searching out facts. Stopped stepping onto the battle field of ideas. Democrats decided the easier softer way was to set and control the narrative. Aided by the propaganda media, given support from academia, Democrats found that the messy work of building consesus and debating any issue, is not required. All they have to do is silence any that dare voice an opinion, in opposition to the narrative.

    Which side has the stronger message?

    I do know which side has no desire to support their position and spends more energy silencing and very little energy gathering and presenting fact. Instead just demanding *fealty to their power. Not there ideas.

    *Fealty; The fidelity owed by a vassal to his feudal lord

    1. Lots of dueling science, Lots of studies, tests, controlled experiments and quotes from people of science on both sides of the subject.

      It is the way science grows, comes to conclusions and then is subject to revision constantly. Yesterday I participated in a 4 hour Zoom conference with 100+ MD and PhD researchers from 3 area state universities. There was little agreement on how to bring to market a class of molecules / drugs (inflammasome inhibitors) that have much promise, yet we agreed to keep researching, publishing, experimenting and meet again. There were no censorial leaders, no anathemas, no stifling of speech. As long as presenters shared their data, and participants were encouraged to ask questions that challenged the presenters’ data, they were expressed out of intellectual inquiry, scientific concern and desire to arrive to the most efficacious and safe conclusion.

      What we have seen in the last 2 years with regard to COVID from politicos has had nothing to do with science. Everyone should inform themselves with scientific sources from all sides so as to arrive at an informed conclusion that works best for them. For those who disagree with our decisions, we wish them well, but never write them off as losers, dolts or lesser than.

      1. “What we have seen in the last 2 years with regard to COVID from politicos has had nothing to do with science.”

        Can you recommend any science-based sources for a layman? Often times, my problem in trying to understand what’s going on is this: I don’t know what I don’t know.

        Incidentally, in case you haven’t seen it, Nicholas Wade (the former science writer at the NYT) wrote a terrific essay on the virus origins:


        1. Pubmed is an excellent source for the layman


          If lay sources cite a journal publication or study, then go to the study itself. Ignore the spin by the lay organizations and focus on the data itself. For example, if Washington Post or Breitbart discuss a study published in the Lancet, then go to the Lancet and make your own conclusions.

          There is a hierarchy of sources that must be employed otherwise you will encounter data fatigue.

          1. Many researchers and physicians disregard scientific literature published in China because Chinese scientists have been busted by many medical publications for falsifying and/or stealing data. When it comes to COVID, China is obviously unreliable.


          2. Medical journals published in English, the universal language of science, rightly or wrongly, take higher priority over most other languages (e.g. Portuguese). Additionally, some countries rank higher than others as to reliability of their findings. For example Australia, Germany and UK rank far higher than Cuba, Venezuela and North Korea when it comes to scientific rigor, research capability and freedom of thought.

          Caveat: There is no silver bullet as a scientific source. Use as many reliable sources as possible, and then make your conclusions. Chances are your conclusions will evolve over time just like the medical sciences.

          1. Estovir: Thanks for the recommendations and for the tips on how to think about them.

  3. Why are we allowing the afraid to dictate what we do? Why do the fears of people who are so afraid of a virus that most people will simply get ill, that they drive around in their own cars alone with a mask on their face? The Dutch Ministry in Holland said they don’t work. In Israel a study showed you’re more likely to contract the virus after the vaccine than before it. Just today Canadian health officials announced the vaccines cause heart inflammation especially in adolescents and people under 30.

    The data is still coming in. They are giving the virus to billions, claiming its safe because billions are “fine” yet the vaccines only been out for less than a year and many were just released recently so the truth is regardless of any condescending arrogant lectures from armchair health expert liberals, that they don’t know if these billion or so vaccinated are “fine”. They just got it within the last year. Side effects usually show up either right away,, like the ones who’ve died from it, or a few years down the road. You can’t declare it safe because you stuck a bunch of willing Guinea pigs and they didn’t squeal yet. Studies take time. And we’re the study.

    So it comes back to how can any govt or business order me or anyone else to let this newly created vaccination for a newly discovered disease that may have been man made to begin with, how can they order me to have it injected into my body or they will restrict my freedoms if I don’t allow them?

    What freedoms? Its not freedom if you can turn it on and off at will, and use it to blackmail me into letting you infect me with a potentially man made experimental virus that can have lethal side effects and the long term side effects are not yet known because no long term studies have been performed. Ever.

    So how can they order this of me or anyone else?

    I say we do this. How about all these fearful whining mask wearing “hero’s” if they are sooo afraid of a virus that most recover easily from with bed rest and fluids, how about they all stay the f#$ home, and let the rest of us get the f$# on with our lives? How about we try that for a while?

    Let them stay home, order their food online and binge netflix while messaging each other recipes and words of encouragement while they sanitize their environment. They can be a bunch of bubble boys and girls. After all its they who are afraid and keep telling the rest of us why we should be afraid too. So why should the rest of us have to be compelled into allow them to make our personal health choices for us?

    We’re not allowed to speak on social media about it. Not allowed to hear other opinions from valid medical institutions or discuss them. We’re not allowed to speak our own minds or voice our own concerns or objections. We’re supposed to sit back and let them dictate our own personal health choices and if we don’t they will restrict our freedoms and take away our livelihoods.

    All in the name of their irrational fear. Theirs. Not ours. Theirs.

    How about they stay home, and let the rest of us get on with our lives.

  4. I hope everyone has been having plenty of things starting to go their families & friends way.

    Just in case know that at least more then a few people here on Prof Turley’s blog have their heads screwed on straight!


    George says:
    September 29, 2021 at 9:49 PM

    * Where are America’s leaders?

    George says:
    September 29, 2021 at 9:50 PM



    Wen Bars says:
    September 30, 2021 at 8:23 AM

    THIS is a better version of the song…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cV0aFRWY4fE

    1. Wen Bars says:
      September 30, 2021 at 8:23 AM

      THIS is a better version of the song…

  5. “Education” today is like a Borg cube…you will be assimilated and you will obey. It’s sheeple herd thing in education today. It must be a leftist yellow dog bent or else. The party (brand) of tolerance from the left is ABSOLUTE INTOLERANCE.

  6. OSU President Kayse Shrum, Provost Jeanette Mendez, and the newspaper’s faculty advisor John Helsley are all responsible for the festering petri dish that allowed this poor student to be persecuted for expressing her views. Each of them should lose their jobs and be held personally responsible to the student for damages. It is past time for accountability and change on our college campuses.

  7. It would seem that Oklahoma State is a public institution that has no dominion as private property owners and must adhere, in all considerations, strictly to the Constitution.

Comments are closed.