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‘Rope. Tree. Journalist’ T-shirt message
shakes teacher to her core

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by Michelle Turner, 2016 National Broadcast Teacher of the Year
Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some Assembly Required.

The recent viral photo of a man in Minnesota donning such a T-shirt was yet another moment in 2016 that my jaw went wide open and I had to pick it off the proverbial floor.

I do not know exactly when Americans made the leap from respecting Journalists and the Fourth Estate to calling for their deaths, but this type of message shakes me to the core of my being.

It never occurred to me that one day I would fear for my former students’ lives who are now in the profession I helped train them for. This is a profession protected by the First Amendment, right? It was so valued by our founding fathers, they made sure it was included in the governmental process. I thought that, as reporters, my former students would be respected and not viewed as an evil that must be eliminated.

It didn’t ever really enter my mind that I would one day have young student journalists more focused towards a “safer” Public Relations career. Can I blame them? They are apprehensive, even fearful, to enter the Journalism profession when people proudly wear shirts calling for a good old-fashioned lynching of journalists.

Regardless of this current state of affairs, I believe in Journalists and I believe in Journalism. I believe in the Fourth Estate. I believe in America.

Furthermore, I believe that ultimately kindness can outweigh hatred.

Yes, the First Amendment protects Americans and gives them the “right” to wear such a sentiment on their backs, but I would hope what is in our hearts is kinder than that.

It’s my hope that my beliefs will spread, and one day the printing and wearing of such shirts may become just a distant memory in historical text.

For links to more information and reporting on the T-shirt issue:
‘Rope. Tree. Journalists’: Photo of t-shirt worn at Trump rally goes viral
Shirt suggesting lynching of journalists spotted at MSP Trump rally
Curt Schilling thinks shirt threatening to lynch journalists is ‘awesome’
• Those horrible ‘Rope. Tree. Journalist.’ shirts take on a whole new meaning in Trump’s America

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