An Open Letter to the Washington Post: Is This Really News?

writing a letterAs the face of news and journalism continue to change, even traditional outlets are pushing the envelope with commentary that shocks our sensibilities.  This weekend, the Washington Post, soon to be taken over by Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos, published a piece of commentary defending sexual relationships between teachers and students. Not surprisingly, the opinion piece (which we are not linking to here), and the decision by the newspaper that brought you Watergate and Richard Nixon’s impeachment, has come under fire for what some see as crossing the line between legitimate journalism and the salacious.

Guest writer and friend of The Broad Side, Matt Shipman, wrote this open letter to WaPo expressing his outrage over the decision, and has allowed TBS to republish it here:

Dear Washington Post,

I am writing in regard to the opinion piece you ran on August 30, “Sex between students and teachers should not be a crime,” by Betsy Karasik.

Choosing to run an op-ed that openly defends the rape of children by teachers does not contribute to any sort of intelligent discussion. Instead, your decision offered a forum to defend the indefensible behavior of pedophiles and sexual predators.

I work with a shelter that serves survivors of rape and sexual assault. They are contacted by thousands of people each year, despite the fact that I do not live in a particularly large city. Offering a soapbox to someone who is attempting to minimize the seriousness of sexual assault is a step in the wrong direction.

By presenting this opinion piece, you appear to be tacitly acknowledging that the subject of child rape is open to debate. That is, frankly, alarming. I am disappointed and saddened by the Post’s decision to offer even the illusion of intellectual cover to those who would harm children.

Yours,

Matt Shipman

What do you think? Is the news industry so desperate for eyeballs that there are no longer any limits on the kind of commentary that gets published?

Matt Shipman is a freelance writer and father of three, based in Raleigh, NC. He is also the founder of the First Step Project, which supports community nonprofit organizations. 

Image  via Wikimedia Commons/Petar Milosevic/CC License

  • I read the Savannah Morning News each day and am each day astonished by what passes as editorial commentary AND letters to the editor. It seems that no crazy theory goes unaired. The Washington Post, despite its lauded history, seems no different, which is deeply disturbing. I have no idea when it became the norm for free speech to include yelling ‘fire” in a crowded theatre but that seems to be the norm these days. It is distressing and adds to the loud roar of ignorance that is blanketing our country.

  • Teacher/student, parent/child, coach/player- the relationship is irrelevant when one party is an adult and the other is a minor. Children cannot consent to having sex, no matter what NAMBLA and Betsy Karasik would like us to believe. Further, this is never more true than when the adult is in a position of authority over a child, as well as being a caregiver/guardian a- as teachers are.

  • I was amazed that the Post saw fit to publish such a poorly reasoned piece. The author completely disregarded the power imbalance present in any such relationship (never mind the issue of an adult having sex with a minor), and she also disregarded the long-term effect such a relationship can have, even on a “consenting” minor. Has she never read Lolita? And do the Post editors have no brains?

  • As a subscriber to the Post, I was deeply disturbed by their decision to publish this piece. Sexual relations between any adult and minor child is unexceptable-and even worse so when the adult is in a position of power. A child is a child and still developing- even in high school. That is when one would “hope” that the adult in question would act like a normal, responsible adult and not a sexual predator.

Why I Wrote “Trumping And Drinking”
Get Over Yourselves. We’re All Rory Gilmore
Hillary Clinton, Shake It Off, Taylor Swift, Hillary Clinton Campaign song
Six Reasons “Shake It Off” Should Be Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Theme Song
Nancy Reagan dies, Just Say No, Ronald Reagan
A Not-So-Positive Ode to Nancy Reagan’s Frothy “Just Say No” Campaign
I Married for Health Insurance
Why I Wrote “Trumping And Drinking”
A Case of Nixonian Deja Vu
Post-Election Munchies: What is Your Grief Snack of Choice?
Why I Wrote “Trumping And Drinking”
A Case of Nixonian Deja Vu
Trump Reality Check, Now with Actual Facts!
Fascism Facts
I Married for Health Insurance
Get Over Yourselves. We’re All Rory Gilmore
Post-Election Munchies: What is Your Grief Snack of Choice?
Women’s Elections Rights in Saudi Arabia: A Token Drop in an Abysmal Bucket & the Plight of Women Under Sharia Law
Maybe It Wasn’t Rape: Emerging Matriarchy and the Altering of Women’s Past Sexual Narratives
Paris attacks, Paris terrorism
Is Paris Burning?
Chinese government and women's reproductive rights, adopting Chinese girls, international adoption
Dear Xi Jinping, I Am Writing to You as an American Mom of a 19-Year-Old Chinese Daughter
The Vital Voice of Hillary Clinton: Part 1
Maybe It Wasn’t Rape: Emerging Matriarchy and the Altering of Women’s Past Sexual Narratives
The Eyes Have It!
Ashley Madison, Jared Fogle, sex, rape, sexual affairs
Ashley Madison vs. Jared Fogle: Rape, Sex and Hacking in America
women's viagra, Viagra, Flibanserin, sexual arousal, women's desire, sex after menopause
That “Little Pink Pill” Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be

Get our new weekly email
Broadly Speaking

featuring our best words for the week + an exclusive longread