Friday, December 16, 2005

Hate in the Letters Column

One thing you often hear from editors is that they are trying to "serve their readers" and be "responsive to the community." Unfortunately, sometimes dimwitted editors use that as an excuse to run hate letters by local crackpots. That was the case some months ago in Ithaca, which ran an op-ed piece by a local bigot, and more recently at the New London Day, as CAMERA's Snapshots blog observes.

The Snapshots piece links to a good article describing why editors have no obligation to open their letters columns to hate-pushing idiots.

A reader points out that one of the leading papers in the west, The Oregonian, pulled off a similar stunt by publishing the ravings of a local dope named Douglas J. Willbanks on Dec. 3. Commenting on an innocuous piece about some local's tour of Israel, Willbanks launched a wildly inaccurate tirade -- and the Oregonian blandly printed it:

"As much as I appreciate Nancy Haught's articles about the two trips to Israel, it is still not a complete story. You will never get a complete story by going on Jewish-sponsored trips.

"Part of the reason for this is that Israel prevents such trips from going into the Palestinian territories, where you have to go to see how "the other side" lives as a result of Israeli oppression. And you need to take the time to talk to the Palestinians who live day by day under that oppression.

"It is also extremely important that Americans know that as long as Israel continues to take Palestinian land while killing, beating, humiliating and arresting those Palestinians who resist, our nation's security will be at risk."

The Oregonian later printed responses pointing out the letter was inaccurate garbage, but that's no excuse. Newspapers have an obligation not to open their columns to lies.

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