Dateline: Downtown

Dan Roche

OK. Here’s the drill. I need submissions.

Just recently, after the last editor of our opinion pages was kidnapped and beaten mercilessly by former Nicaraguan contras (get well soon, Jobian), the editor-in-chief of the Mass Media vested me with responsibility over this space. The bad news is that now I have to fill up two square feet of newsprint every week. The tragic news is that I can’t fill it with 3,600-word paeans to the new Pepsi Lime like I want to (it’s delicious). I could, but this is where the good news comes in.

The good news is that I have this amazing reservoir of analytical ability, political acumen, ideas and opinions to tap into. The University of Massachusetts, Boston. The readership of these pages includes future professors, legislators, authors, researchers, and who knows who else. What I am offering is the opportunity to express, in a free press and free of charge, your opinions. The ability to hold forth on your hot-button topics, to rant about what bothers you in this black blood world, to build bridges or gulfs in the body politic of our school. To evoke controversy or to make amends. To make people listen, inasmuch as they will read your words and consider or discard them. What a powerful tool it is that we are gifted with, this freedom of speech!

I’ll lay it down for you right now. If this is a boring section to read, it’s no one’s fault but your own. You, personally, reading this. It sure as hell isn’t my fault; a newspaper opinion section at any school with a vibrant intellectual life should be anything but boring. It should be vexing, compelling, ornery, well-considered. Unpredictable, composed, ignorant, enlightened- it should be a mess of clashing opinions and consensus, and if it is bare it is a reflection on its surrounding community. A mediocre opinion page in any newspaper suggests a community devoid of opinion. I suspect this not to be true about our school.

Consider this, then, a call to arms- or mouths. Shut me up. I want right-wing nuts whining about political bias, feminists trying to impose a politically-correct new regime, supercilious Libertarians. I want you cranks coming out of the woodwork, flooding my email inbox with your arguments so I can tell you to get bent before I run your article. In short, these pages should smell like America, one flinging crazy argument from start to finish.

I could dangle a carrot in front of you by saying that it’s a chance to get clippings with your byline on them, or by saying that one out of every five lucky submitters gets the keys to a 2006 Lexus LS Prestige luxury sedan with a 32-valve V8 engine and ventilated disc brakes (it’s true), but that comes later. Being heard, and contributing your end to this ongoing experiment in free speech, should be reason enough. I look forward to hearing from you.