10/26/2004: Bush supporters: jack-booted thugs....
Disappearing lawn signs. Now this. From the Crawford, Texas Lone Star Iconoclast (if that name rings a slight bell, that's the President's hometown paper, which made headlines by endorsing Senator Kerry in this year's election):
The Iconoclast received considerable criticism this past week after its editors endorsed John Kerry for President. Several subscriptions and advertisements were canceled after the newspaper hit the stands Tuesday morning.If the Crawford Village Idiot really wins, and his cult remains in power, emigration really begins to look better all the time.
The editorial, co-authored by the newspaper’s publisher, W. Leon Smith, and writers Don Fisher and Nathan Diebenow, expressed the opinion that Kerry would take the country in a better direction. There have been both positive and negative comments.
We expected that perhaps a few readers might cancel subscriptions, and maybe even ads, but have been amazed at a few of the more intense communications, some of which bordered on outright personal attacks and uncalled-for harassment.
We have been told by several avid Bush supporters that the days when newspapers publish editorials without personal repercussions are over. As publishers, we have printed editorials for decades, and have endorsed candidates, both Republican and Democrat. When Bush was endorsed four years ago, the Gore supporters did not respond with threats, nor did Democrats when we endorsed Reagan twice.
Republicans did not threaten us personally or our business when we endorsed Carter and Clinton for their first terms.
In the past, when individuals disagreed with an editorial, they would write a letter to the editor politely expressing a different point of view in contrast to the views of the publishers, which we have usually published. Occasionally someone would cancel a subscription or an ad, but this was rare.
The goal of the editorial page has been to provide an arena for the expression of a variety of thoughtful opinions, some by the publishers, some by columnists, and some by our readers.
The new mode of operation, I am told, is that when a newspaper prints an editorial of which some sectors might disagree, the focus is now upon how to run the newspaper out of business. Out the window are the contributions the newspaper has made to the community in the past and the newspaper’s extensive investment in the community.
We do understand peoples’ rights to pull subscriptions and ads, and to express a differing opinion, but we have some trouble understanding threats and payback since in politics there are often a variety of options. For the publishers to herald one of the options should be no cause for persecution.
When you think about it, editorials are often displayed in people’s yards with campaign signs. These are endorsements by residents. Is it proper to persecute them for stating their opinions in this manner if you disagree with their choices? Should they be harassed and threatened? We don’t think so.
Unfortunately, for the Iconoclast and its publishers there have been threats — big ones including physical harm.
Too, some individuals are threatening innocent commercial concerns, claiming that if they advertise in The Iconoclast, they will be run out of business. We consider this improper in a democracy.
Several young members of our staff covering Tonkawa Traditions this past weekend were angrily harassed and threatened that they must leave, which cut short their ability to fully do their jobs and instilled in them considerable fear for their safety. These reporters had nothing to do with that editorial. They were part-time college students working to pay their way through school and better themselves.
Although several members of the community are upset at the newspaper, there are still those who want us to continue with local coverage as we have in the past. We do have concern for the safety of our staff, however, and find it troubling when they are bullied and cannot do their jobs.
Len on 10.26.04 @ 08:31 AM CST