Editorial: Addressing the Elephant on the Rock

We didn’t have an article about ISIS graffiti on Tradition Rock.

To be honest, we don’t have much more information than what has already been released by other numerous news outlets. Shannon Tirone, associate vice president of University Relations, told us the University had Arabic experts examine the graffiti. They determined there were inconsistencies that made it unlikely that the person spoke the language.

It’s also odd that a notoriously violent terrorist organization would confine their graffiti to the one area of campus where graffiti is allowed.

We could have tried to contextualize it by talking to campus experts on conflict and extremism, but that’s giving more weight to what was most likely a prank by some disrespectful kids.

That isn’t to discount the fear that students experienced. It’s certainly not to deny the discomfort international students reportedly felt while walking around campus in the wake of the event.

In an interview with The Washington Post following the Boston Marathon bombings, security expert Bruce Schneier said that terrorism is a crime against the mind.

“The message of terrorist attacks is you’re not safe, and the government can’t protect you — that the existing power structure can’t protect you,” Schneier said.

Terrorism makes us feel more vulnerable than we actually are. The number of people who died during the attacks on Paris die each week of gun violence in the U.S. Yet, the majority of us aren’t paralyzed by a pervasive fear of gun violence.

Schneier’s subsequent statement is even more telling.

“I tell people if it’s in the news, don’t worry about it. By definition, news is something that almost never happens,” Schneier said. “The brain fools you into thinking the news is what’s important.”

As journalists, we cover things that are rare; everyday events don’t catch people’s attention. If we’re focused on it, it’s probably not something you need to worry about happening everyday.

At the same time, there is the risk that we give too much time to something that doesn’t deserve it. And when we constantly relay the messages painted on the rock, we do a service for those who defaced it.

At the most recent Student Government Association meeting, Jacob Schriner-Briggs, executive vice president of SGA, said a local news outlet bumped coverage of Ashley Orr being named a Rhodes Scholar to cover the graffiti on the rock.

We’re not going to do that. We’re a week removed from the event, and there’s no reason to believe the threat was credible. Until they identify suspects, there is nothing new to report.

We’d rather draw your attention to the downtown business collaborations, students winning advertising awards and Amy Cossentino’s Last Lecture than help some idiot kids by relaying their message of hate.

The editorial board that writes editorials consists of the editor-in-chief, the managing editor, the copy editor, and the news editor. These opinion pieces are written separately from news articles. They draw on the opinions of the entire writing staff and do not reflect the opinions of any individual staff member. The Jambar’s business manager and non-writing staff do not contribute to editorials, and the adviser does not have final approval.