Inhibiting ability to "Express" poses problems

By Daily Illini Editorial Board

It is nothing new to University students that the bus company Suburban Express has had its share of, shall we say, controversies. Since January 2013, there has been an abundance of issues between Suburban Express and our campus including claims of racism, lawsuits against students, e-harassment and outright bans of service to entire zip codes. In short, the problems students and customers have had with Suburban Express have been innumerable, and thus, of course there has been, deservingly, a spread of varying opinions throughout campus.

Naturally, being affiliates of a student newspaper ourselves, freedom of speech and freedom of the press are concepts we support wholeheartedly. We need views to be expressed, arguments had, experiences shared and opinions made to address dilemmas in the first place.

What we cannot get behind, however, is a blatant disregard for the right to freely express those views and attempts to silence voices.

In the latest tiff, Suburban Express reacted to an article published in the student-run satirical newspaper The Black Sheep last week. As part of their first annual “Sheepie Awards,” the newspaper dubbed Suburban Express as the winner of “Worst Way to Get Home.” In addition, for the category of “Who has terrorized UIUC campus the most” the winner was “Dennis from Sub Ex” — directed at the owner of Suburban Express, Dennis Toeppen.

Of course, from a company who has been associated with lawsuits and e-harassment, it is not surprising that they had a rebuttal. Through their Facebook page, Suburban Express stated in a lengthy post that they would give discounts to those who brought them the latest copies of The Black Sheep so they could use them “to sop up our scum and line our birdcage.”

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    Suburban Express essentially wanted to limit the readership of that particular issue and wanted to prevent the opinions of those in The Black Sheep from being heard at all. To reiterate their intent, Suburban Express’s post went on to say, “Remember, you must bring in current copies which have not been unfolded. The current issue is typically put out on Thursdays. That means papers have to be cashed in Thursday afternoon or Friday morning.”

    Controversy is something we can deal with — and many times we even welcome it. But the outright silencing of voices is something we cannot deal with. We stand behind The Black Sheep and their right to publish their views without blatant attempts to prevent them from being seen or heard.