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Ad censorship constituted abuse of editorial powers

Mark Wilson, manager of the Communications Office at the MIT Department of Public Relations Services, should be ashamed of himself. By sanitizing the Planned Parenthood advertisement in last year's telephone directories for our supposed protection ["Planned Parenthood ad modified in directories," Oct. 31], Wilson seriously abused the editorial powers granted him for the purpose of bettering communications at MIT.

Wilson's deletion of the words "abortion" and "birth control" from the ad raises serious ethical questions. These can be separated from the current argument over abortion rights by not considering the removal of "abortion." How about "birth control?" Each January, the MIT-published Independent Activities Period guide is filled with information from our medical department about classes discussing birth control. The medical department also provides birth control to those men and women at MIT who desire it. It is clearly not MIT's policy to discourage, or be ashamed of discussing, birth control. Given this, what on earth caused Wilson to think MIT would want these words censored from our phone book?

It is hard to believe he was just trying to "soften" that painful experience of "discomfort" on such a "sensitive" issue. These nice words belong in a laxative advertisement -- they're not fooling anybody here. The ad was modified because some people personally dislike abortion and birth control, and would rather if the rest of us were not reminded of the fact that both are available in Cambridge.

Wilson says his office "has the right to review all the ad copy." A doctor is entrusted with the right to prescribe addictive drugs, but that doesn't make it ethical for him to abuse that right. Regardless of Wilson's editorial powers, the way he used them was just plain wrong.

Wilson should see to it that Planned Parenthood is given the opportunity to advertise the plain facts in plain language, unencumbered by his (or Personnel Office members') personal opinions.

Gill Pratt G->