When ancient Romans needed a new toga, a cup of coffee or a connection with the outside world, they couldn’t simply hop in a chariot and head down to the corner Target.
The Forum served as the citizens’ gathering place. It was a spot not only for the exchange of goods, but for the exchange of ideas.
Down the street at the Colosseum was where gladiators fought each other (as well as the occasional wild beast) to the death.
In today’s society, too often our discussions resemble the battles in the Colosseum. The shouting matches led by Bill O’Reilly, James Carville, Ann Coulter and too many other “opinion leaders” make great television. But hardly anyone agrees that talk shows on cable news channels create greater understanding of the issues and each other.
Civil discussion can be hard to find when the loudest voice wins.
This semester, we hope the Forum page resembles the grand discussions of Rome’s Forum rather than the bloodshed of the Colosseum. To do this, we’ve selected thoughtful editorial writers and columnists who will inform and entertain. If we do our jobs, what you read on this page will make you pause, ponder, chuckle or take action.
But sometimes, we may also piss you off.
Angering the audience is rarely our goal in writing a piece. But differing opinions often breed hot emotions. It will be easy for you to dismiss an opinion on this page when it disagrees with your own.
You may think we’re too liberal. Or too conservative. Or too flippant. Or too naive. And then you’ll toss us aside.
If you think we’re wrong, tell us. The Forum page is the one section of the newspaper specifically designed to foster a two-way conversation. So take advantage of it.
When Chris Matthews drops one of his particularly insipid comments, what options do you have to respond? Sure you can send him an e-mail, but do you think he actually reads them? Your best option is usually to shout at the unresponsive TV screen.
When you disagree with us, or agree with us, or simply have something to say to this newspaper staff or the campus community, tell us at [email protected] We want your kudos, and we can take the heat.
If your thoughts are short, shoot us a letter to the editor. If you have more to say, put together a guest column. Either way, they’re your best method to make your voice heard at Kent State. The requirements are on the left side of this page.
Letters and guest columns help us ensure a diversity of opinions is expressed on the Forum page. To get the ball rolling, we’ve invited the leaders of numerous student groups across campus to contribute columns on the issues affecting their communities. Look for them in the coming weeks, and encourage your group to participate.
Ultimately, whether you experience the Forum page as a reader or take keyboard in hand to respond, this place will exist as a daily marketplace for your fellow students’ ideas. Just as that ancient Forum served all those centuries ago.
Of course, history also remembers that Julius Caesar was assassinated on his way to the Forum.
Let’s not be having any of that.
Brian Thornton is a journalism graduate student and Forum editor for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]