bookmark_borderRubbing salt in the wounds

As part of the senseless war against every person and thing from history that is unique or different, there has been a concerted effort to obliterate the legacy of Christopher Columbus. One of the most despicable instances of this has taken place in the city of Columbus, Ohio. Reprehensibly, the city decided to remove two beautiful statues of the Italian hero: one outside city hall and one at a community college. Making this even more disgusting is the fact that the statue at city hall was gifted by Columbus’s hometown of Genoa, Italy in 1955. Genoa and Columbus were considered sister cities until the latter decided to spit in the face of the Italian-American community by repudiating both its Italian counterpart and its namesake. 

A recent column by Theodore Decker of the Columbus Dispatch makes light of this situation in a way that I find offensive and disrespectful to those who have been hurt by the city’s actions. The column is titled, “Amid a raging storm, Columbus finds a safe harbor on Statehouse lawn.” Thinking that perhaps some entity had actually decided to think for itself and keep a Columbus statue in place, I clicked on the article. Unfortunately, the title was somewhat deceptive. Far from having announced the intention to let Columbus stay, the Ohio state government had determined that the city’s only remaining statue of its namesake, located outside the State House, will likely be obliterated along with the other two; there will just be a five-year process to make the decision official.

In the column, Decker pokes fun at Columbus and portrays the heartless and bigoted assault on him as something neutral or even positive. “Columbus the man, as you know, has taken a bit of a blow to his reputation, what with the pretty much indisputable allegations of genocide and all,” Decker writes. The allegations of genocide are actually very disputable; see this paper by the Sons of Italy, for example. Additionally, Decker points out in a flippant and almost gleeful tone that the explorer has “fallen from grace,” that the two statues of him were “swiftly vanquished,” that the city’s “love affair with Columbus the man was fading,” and that his reputation has been “tainted by, well, the complexities that accompany historical reality.” And he jokes that the statues were moved to “the city’s top-secret government base, Area 1492.”

Making matters worse, Decker seems to take delight in the fact that one of the few people with the courage to defend Columbus – State Rep. Larry Householder – happened to be arrested for money laundering. “Nobody is perfect,” Householder pointed out in defense of Columbus. Decker takes a dismissive tone towards this comment, but it is actually an important and meaningful point. The attitude of the anti-statue crowd is, indeed, that anyone who is not perfect by their standards should be destroyed. This ideology is disturbing because of its bigotry and intolerance, because of the inconsistency with which it is applied, and because it strips the world of everything meaningful, distinctive, and interesting. Householder is therefore correct to take a stand against it.

But this point is lost on Decker, who seems to care about nothing but reveling in the misfortune of others. I don’t get what the money laundering charges against Householder have to do with Columbus, and I don’t see the purpose of pointing them out, other than to further stigmatize and inflict additional pain on those who are already on the minority side of an issue. What is the point of writing a column that consists solely of kicking people who are already down and rubbing salt into the wounds of people who are already hurting? The brutal campaign of destruction against Columbus is not funny. It is a vicious assault on a brave and remarkable man who is unable to defend himself. Seeing a man who I love and admire being treated this way is heartbreaking, infuriating, and soul-crushing. To make light of these despicable actions demonstrates a complete lack of empathy for those who have been harmed. No matter what imperfections Christopher Columbus might have had, it is indisputable that he risked his life for what he believed in. Has Decker ever sailed into uncharted territory, braved sickness and starvation, interacted with people from a completely unknown civilization, and established a settlement in a foreign land? My guess would be no. Instead, it appears that he does nothing but sit on his butt writing columns that ridicule and insult people. He should consider actually fighting for something that he believes in, or attempting to contribute something positive to the world, as opposed to gleefully pointing out the flaws of others and delighting in their misfortune.

bookmark_borderMorgan Wallen and the cancel mob

Country star Morgan Wallen is one of the most recent victims of the politically correct, bullying mob. After his neighbor’s Ring camera captured a video of him using a racial slur outside his home and leaked it to TMZ, his career has essentially been completely destroyed. His record label and agent dropped him, all major radio stations stopped playing his music, Spotify, Pandora, and Apple Music removed his songs from their playlists, CMT and the County Music Association removed his appearances from their channels, and the Academy of Country Music disqualified him from eligibility for awards.

While using a racial slur isn’t the greatest thing to do, society’s punishment of Wallen is excessive and unjust, and yet another example of the warped priorities of cancel culture. The actions of Wallen’s neighbor, who violated his privacy by recording a video of him on his own property and leaking the video to TMZ, are more disturbing and worthy of punishment than Wallen’s actions, yet have gone completely unexamined, uncriticized, and unquestioned. More significantly, hundreds of people across the nation have destroyed irreplaceable works of art in the name of the Black Lives Matter movement – actions that are far more reprehensible than merely saying a word – yet have escaped punishment completely.

Making matters worse, the media, instead of so much as mentioning the possibility that Wallen’s punishment may have been too harsh, are almost exclusively focusing on the viewpoint that he is not being punished harshly enough and even that country music in its entirety is racist. For example, the LA Times published an article called, “Nashville has punished Morgan Wallen. But country music’s reckoning with racism awaits.

This article and others like it are problematic for several reasons. First of all, the article is racist, criticizing the “formula of white men in denim — Luke Bryan to Luke Combs to, now, Morgan Wallen — singing about small-town life, a formula that leaves out Black artists, women and even left of center musicians like Tyler Childers.” Although racial and gender diversity are always welcome, there is nothing inherently bad about white men in denim, and it is discriminatory to imply that people who fit this description are somehow worse than people of other genders, races, and clothing choices. This point also ignores the discrimination in favor of women, non-white people, and especially “left of center” people that exists in much of our society, and the fact that the country music industry is one of the few spaces in which conservative and non-political people have been allowed to exist and be themselves. The article also quotes singer Vanessa Carlton, who alleges that “the white men who have been in charge of these radio stations and labels for a long, long time… protect the cancer because they are the cancer.” It shouldn’t even need to be stated that to call a group of people “cancer” because of their race and gender is blatantly sexist and racist.

The article also makes the false contention that Wallen’s punishment has been lenient compared to those of other country artists for various missteps. “Non-male artists, and non-white ones, are rarely offered the grace Wallen has received in his short career,” the article says. Singer-songwriter Kalie Shorr alleges in the article that “careers have been lit on fire for much less.” In addition to the fact that being completely exiled from radio and TV and suspended by one’s record label and agent can hardly be characterized as “grace,” neither Shorr nor the author of the article provides any convincing examples to support their claims. The article mentions LeAnn Rimes, who was allegedly “pushed out of the genre” for cheating on her husband, the Dixie Chicks, who sparked controversy when they insulted President Bush, and Rissi Palmer, who “lost her label for failing to sell the same number of records as white artists who walk in with a massive advantage.” But none of these artists have been punished anywhere near as severely as Wallen has. The music of Rimes and the Dixie Chicks is still played on the radio all the time. As for Palmer, it seems that the article considers it a punishment that she was held to the same standards that a white artist would be. But isn’t this exactly the way things should work in a just and non-discriminatory society? For someone to be held to lower standards because they are black is just as racist as excluding someone because they are black.

Finally, the article makes the disturbing implication that it is somehow wrong for the country music industry and/or its members to be politically neutral. It quotes author Charles Hughes, who says, “The claim that we all just need to come together and get along, or that country artists shouldn’t be political, just isn’t good enough.” Unless my interpretation is completely wrong, Hughes is saying not only that it is bad for people to oppose the ideology of political correctness, but that it is also bad for people to be neutral on this matter; in other words that the only acceptable option is to actively support the ideology. There are numerous legitimate reasons to oppose the political correctness ideology, which I have explained many times in previous blog posts. Any person would be completely within his or her rights – and in my opinion would be acting courageously, correctly, and honorably – to speak out against this ideology, and it is intolerant and deeply wrong to suggest otherwise. But to suggest that people don’t even have a right to stay neutral is beyond intolerant and wrong. Even worse, the article quotes country program director Christal Blue, who claims that “if a programmer quietly pulls Morgan Wallen today but makes no public statement about their station not tolerating the behavior, they remain complicit.” In other words, not even exiling Wallen from the airwaves is sufficient for the politically correct bullies; he also must be verbally condemned at every opportunity.

Today I ordered Wallen’s latest album, as well as his earlier one (they are still available for sale, at least for now). Not only do I like a lot of his songs, but this is one small way of fighting back against the politically correct mob and their toxic ideology of intolerance in the name of tolerance and conformity in the name of diversity.

bookmark_borderWashington Post article epitomizes what is wrong with the media

Lately I have been avoiding consuming news as much as I can. Things have reached a point where I can no longer watch news shows or read news articles without becoming angry at the biased word choices of the so-called journalists. What is supposed to be the neutral providing of information has turned into editorializing and opinion. The below article from the Washington Post epitomizes what is wrong with the media. I read only the headline and the first sentence of the article, and there are almost too many false and biased things to count:

First of all, news outlets should not describe Trump’s claims as “falsehoods.” They should remain neutral on the truth or falsity of Trump’s statements and allow readers to form their own conclusions. Second, describing Trump’s claims as an “onslaught” is opinion, not factual. Third, Trump’s claims did not necessarily mislead any Americans, let alone millions, because as I already stated, it is up to readers to form their own conclusions about the truth or falsity of the claims. Fourth, undermining faith in the electoral system is not necessarily a bad thing, because if Trump’s claims are actually correct, and there are problems with the integrity of the electoral system, then it is good for people to question this system instead of having blind faith in it. To characterize undermining faith in the electoral system as inherently bad presumes the truth of what the authors are (wrongly, because their job is to be neutral) trying to prove: namely that Trump’s claims of election fraud are false. Fifth, what happened at the Capitol on January 6th was a protest, not a riot. And sixth, it was not really the protest that was deadly; it was the police response to it. Out of the five people who died for reasons related to that protest, one was a cop who was allegedly killed by a protestor, one was a cop who committed suicide, two were protesters who suffered medical emergencies, and one was a protestor who was deliberately killed by cops. 

So yeah, other than that, this article is totally appropriate and makes perfect sense… NOT! The individuals who wrote it and the editor(s) who allowed it to be published should be ashamed of themselves. And, as a side note, it’s awfully ironic that a news outlet so biased towards the left, and the accompanying tendency to spend as much money as possible on unnecessary government programs, is suddenly concerned about taxpayers’ money.

bookmark_borderCNN’s disgrace

The job of any reporter or journalist is to provide information in a neutral and factual way. The individuals who purported to be serving as reporters and journalists on CNN this afternoon failed abjectly and miserably in this duty.

I made the poor decision of turning on the TV to watch coverage of the brave patriots who were fighting back against authoritarianism in Washington, D.C. The way that the employees of CNN covered this topic was so egregiously biased that I simultaneously felt sick to my stomach and could not stop watching. One vicious insult after another flowed from the lips of the CNN employees. Some of the words used included:

  • “Shameful”
  • “Absolutely disgraceful”
  • “Treasonous”
  • “Disgusting”
  • “Revolting”
  • “Deplorable”
  • “Deranged”
  • “Unacceptable”
  • “Ridiculous”
  • “Deranged”
  • “Thugs”
  • “Knuckleheads”
  • “Wannabe weekend warriors”
  • “Criminals”
  • “Insurrectionists”
  • “Mob”
  • “Rioters”
  • “Domestic terrorists”

These are what managed to pass for headlines, with the words “mob” and “rioters” used matter-of-factly as if they were somehow objective terms:

As if this were not enough, so-called anchor Anderson Cooper ridiculed the protesters for high-fiving each other and smiling, calling this a “deplorable display” and adding that they “stood up for nothing other than mayhem.” He opined, preposterously, that the protesters had nothing to feel aggrieved about because for years gay people were not allowed to marry. He described the situation as completely Trump’s fault and criticized Trump’s family for being “enablers.” Reprehensibly, he described an individual protester wearing colonial garb as a “buffoon.” And he pompously and contemptuously declared, “They’re not protesters, they’re insurrectionists.” Van Jones said of the protests, “We need to snuff this out” and demanded a “uniform denunciation” from the Republican Party. Wolf Blitzer claimed that the protesters “probably are too stupid to know” that they could be arrested. Several alleged journalists on CNN compared the situation to the Black Lives Matter protests and implored viewers to imagine if today’s protesters were black people or Muslims (seemingly implying that they would have been treated worse if that had been the case). 

In addition to Cooper, Jones, and Blitzer, other CNN employees who behaved completely disgracefully today include John King, Abby Phillip, Gloria Borger, and Kaitlan Collins. There are probably more that I am missing. 

The type of language used by these people would be unacceptable even in an editorial or opinion piece. In news coverage, it is beyond preposterous. It does not matter what the subject matter is; every person who claims to be a reporter or journalist must present it in a neutral way. When one is supposed to be covering the news, expressing opinions is not okay, let alone expressing them in a way that involves vile personal insults. Neither Osama bin Laden nor Saddam Hussein nor Adolf Hitler nor Jeffrey Dahmer deserved to be described the way the CNN employees described the pro-Trump protesters today. Each and every individual who spoke on CNN this afternoon needs, at the absolute least, to be fired immediately. 

bookmark_borderAnother day, another defamatory blog post

I came across another defamatory blog post by Michelle Davis at Living Blue in Texas, in which she insults the Confederate statue at Parker County Courthouse in Weatherford, Texas, as well as those who support it.

“There is no question about it, Progressives in Parker County are modern day civil rights activists standing up to hate in their own town,” she pompously gloats.

As usual, Davis repeatedly defames people who support the Confederate statue by calling them “racists” (and also defames the statue itself by calling it a “racist statue”). Also as usual, she personally attacks those who disagree with her, calling the Confederate flag a “loser flag,” categorizing opinions that are different from hers as “garbage,” describing statue supporters as “doing some type of circle-jerk around the statue,” and referring insultingly (and falsely) to the statue as “their precious ode to white supremacy.” And also as usual, she refers to them as “counter-protesters” with the derisive quotes, which makes no sense because the people she is describing actually are counter-protesters. 

First, Davis criticizes the statue supporters for arriving early and surrounding the monument to defend it before a recent protest, writing, “they still think that their Black neighbors are going to burn it down, despite they’ve never burned it down in all of the dozens of protests they’ve had this year.” First of all, I’m willing to bet the statue supporters aren’t just concerned about the possibility of black people vandalizing the statue; the statue-destroying, politically correct mob contains people of all races. Second, I’m not really sure why Davis expects the statue supporters to stop defending their statue just because it hasn’t been vandalized yet. There’s always a chance that protesters could vandalize the statue, so it’s wise to physically protect it just in case. (Also, a flyer advertising the protest contained the words “smash racism,” which could reasonably be interpreted encouraging vandalism. If you use the word “smash” in your own flyer, you have no right to ridicule people for being concerned that a statue might possibly end up being vandalized.)

Davis describes comments on the Sons of Confederate Veterans Facebook page as “hateful and racist” and displays screenshots of numerous comments, none of which are hateful or racist. Ironically, Davis’s blog post contains a photo showing a protester with a sign reading, “Black & brown built this town, time to take the statue down,” which is more racist than any of the pro-statue Facebook comments Davis is criticizing. (Is it really true that no white people had any part in building the town of Weatherford? I’m willing to bet not.)

“Likely, these people don’t even realize how hateful and ugly they look,” Davis writes of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and other statue supporters. Except that they do not look hateful or ugly at all. They are standing up for a Confederate statue, which is neither hateful nor ugly. It is actually Davis who looks (and is) hateful and ugly for ridiculing and defaming those with different views than her.

“They’ve been lied to their entire lives and were likely indoctrinated into white supremacy when they were kids and it is now intertwined with their identities,” Davis writes. “It is Living Blue in Texas’ opinion that old racists likely will never learn or understand inclusion.” First of all, speculating about why people hold the views that they do is inappropriate. Davis is not in a position to know what her ideological opponents’ upbringings or backgrounds were like. Presuming that anyone who holds pro-Confederate views must have been “indoctrinated” as a child presumes that pro-Confederate views are false, because it denies the possibility that someone could have arrived at such views through careful and deliberate thought. Second, it’s absolutely hilarious that Davis writes about inclusion when she is arguing that a monument must be removed because the cause that it commemorates is not popular in the year 2020. It is the exact opposite of inclusion to defame, ridicule, and obliterate the history of an already marginalized group. But that is exactly what Davis and the Progressives of Parker County are doing. Clearly, they are the ones who do not understand inclusion.

Then, Davis describes an incident at the recent protest in which an anti-statue protester, Tony Crawford, asks the counter-protesters to “prove that the Confederacy wasn’t racist.” Does she not realize that this isn’t how the burden of proof works? It’s the burden of those who think the Confederacy was racist to prove that it was racist, not the other way around. 

And then she glowingly and admiringly describes an incident in which another anti-statue protester, Jessica Luther-Rummel, “pressed some of these racists for their names” and “told all of the white supremacists standing around that they could all go get f***ed up the a**.” How classy. Why exactly would someone consider it a good thing to treat people this way?

Davis complains about “the racism, hate, and violence” allegedly perpetrated by her opponents and criticizes them for being “full of hate and rage.” She complains that statue supporters allegedly threatened members of the anti-statue group but completely ignores the repugnant behavior of those on her own side, as well as the inherent intolerance and injustice of their cause. It is the anti-statue protesters who are truly practicing racism and hate. And it is completely understandable that people would be full of rage when they have been treated the way that Davis, Crawford, Luther-Rummel, and the rest of the anti-statue bullies have been treating those with different views.

And finally, in case there was any doubt that Davis and the Progressives of Parker County are the true bullies, she closes by gloating about how “the Confederate traitors were defeated by America.” Anyone who considers it “treasonous” to rebel against an oppressive government is an authoritarian and a bully. Yes, the Confederacy was defeated by the United States due to the latter being more populous and industrialized, but I am not sure why someone would consider this something to brag about. Which side won a war and which side lost has nothing to do with which side was morally right. Anyone who has the belief that military strength determines moral right and wrong is, you guessed it, an authoritarian and a bully. 

“It’s baffling how any non-racist can see what’s been happening in Weatherford and not have the urge to stand with or support the Black community and their allies in their efforts to remove this symbol of white supremacy from the lawn of the halls of justice,” writes Davis. Actually, Davis makes it very easy to resist standing with her side. Her mean-spirited, contemptuous treatment of other people reminds me of the bullies that I dealt with in elementary and middle school. There is no place for ridicule and personal attacks in our discourse, and the sheer volume of these that Davis has put forth on her blog makes my brain hurt. The Progressives of Parker County are the furthest thing possible from “modern day civil rights activists standing up to hate.” They are mean, nasty, intolerant bullies who are trampling on the underdog, ridiculing anyone who disagrees with them, and attempting to obliterate from the world everything that does not conform to their narrow definition of political correctness. 

“Enough is enough,” Davis writes. Yes, it is. 

bookmark_borderConfederate supporters are not white supremacists – rebutting a libelous blog post

This happened a while ago, but I just came across an extremely wrong and offensive blog post describing a protest at a Confederate monument in Gainesville, Texas.

The author, Michelle H. Davis at Living Blue in Texas, repeatedly uses the terms “white supremacists” and “racists” to describe people who demonstrated their support for the Confederate monument. She uses these terms as if they are simply non-controversial, factual terms for these demonstrators, but the use of these terms is completely false and therefore defamatory. There is nothing racist or white supremacist about supporting the Confederacy or defending its monuments. It is possible that someone could support the Confederacy for racist reasons, but it is just as possible (and actually more likely) that one would support the Confederacy because the Confederacy rebelled against the federal government. In other words, I (and many other people) support the Confederacy because it stands for the values of liberty, freedom, individual rights, resistance to authority, and thinking for oneself as opposed to mindlessly conforming to social norms and complying with existing power structures. That is what the Confederate flag and Confederate monuments mean to me, so it is completely unwarranted to assume that anyone who supports these things is racist. 

Davis also describes the pro-Confederate group as “counter-protesters” with derisive quotation marks as if to imply that they are not actually counter-protesters. Given that these individuals were demonstrating their opposition to a different group who were advocating for the removal of the monument, they actually were counter-protesters, and there is therefore no need to insultingly put this term in quotes. She also falsely calls the counter-protesters “domestic terrorists” and describes one of the leaders of the counter-protest as a “moron,” which is a completely classless way to describe one’s ideological opponents. Plus, she posts pictures of counter-protesters and asks readers to contact police if they recognize them, which is a form of harassment and bullying. 

Davis claims that the pro-Confederate group “were clearly the aggressor,” which is false because necessarily, the group that is advocating for the removal of a statue is always the aggressor in any conflict. She complains that police “picked a side, and it wasn’t the side of the people who were against racism, against slavery, and wanted a fair and equal society.” Davis seems to presume that the anti-monument protesters were the ones who fit this description and criticizes the police for siding with the pro-monument protesters. But this characterization is false. Both sides in this conflict were equally against slavery. Judging by the fact that in her blog post Davis makes racist statements such as “there is a lot of actual history that white people were never taught,” she and her side are actually more racist than the pro-Confederate demonstrators. And the anti-Confederate demonstrators were actually advocating for the exact opposite of a fair and equal society. Advocating that a powerless, unpopular minority group be further marginalized and their history obliterated is as far from fair and equal as you can get. 

Finally, Davis describes a “hilarious” instance during the protest in which an anti-Confederate demonstrator taunted those who were defending the monument:

“The most hilarious thing is when she’s [sic] yells at the racists, ‘Yay! America!,’ then all the ‘counter protesters’ cheer, then she says something about how America kicked the Confederate’s ass. All of the white supremacists stop cheering and with a solemn face, just stare at her in silence. Crickets. How telling is that?”

In addition to the fact that Davis incorrectly uses the words “racists” and “white supremacists” and inappropriately puts the words “counter protesters” in quotes, I’m not exactly sure what her point is. The counter-protesters reacted negatively when the anti-Confederate demonstrator mentioned that the United States defeated the Confederacy. This reaction was entirely appropriate. The Union’s victory over the Confederacy was an instance of a powerful government trampling on the underdog. It was an instance of a people being denied their right to form an independent country and being forced to remain part of another country against their will. Why would anyone brag about this? Anyone who considers it a good thing that a powerful, oppressive government defeated a justified, courageous rebellion is a bully and an authoritarian. So yes, this incident is telling. Just not in the way Davis thinks it is. 

bookmark_borderReal estate website calls Columbus “genocidal explorer” – really??

In a dismaying example of how thoroughly the political correctness movement has infiltrated our society, an article on the real estate and urban design website Curbed refers to Christopher Columbus as a “genocidal explorer.” The article by Brock Keeling, about San Francisco’s decision to remove its statue of Columbus, begins:

Christopher Columbus never stepped foot on what is today the United States. He never visited California or sailed the Pacific Ocean. And he didn’t discover America in 1492. But that hasn’t stopped American cities, including San Francisco, from erecting statues honoring the genocidal explorer. 

Seriously? Why is an article on a real estate website personally insulting a historical figure? The article mentions that Nancy Pelosi and Maya Angelou have been suggested as possible replacements for Columbus, both of which make me sick to my stomach. And it mentions matter-of-factly that vandals have attacked the Columbus statue repeatedly over the years, usually on Columbus Day. Does Keeling not realize that these despicable acts constitute hate crimes against the Italian-American community? It’s inappropriate to treat heinous acts of bigotry and destruction as perfectly normal events.

A spokeswoman for the city’s art commission, Rachelle Axel, said that the beautiful statue was removed “because it doesn’t align with San Francisco’s values or our commitment to racial justice… who and what we honor through our public art can and should reflect our values.”

The idea that a statue of Christopher Columbus does not align with San Francisco’s values reflects poorly on San Francisco. A world in which a statue of a brilliant, courageous explorer is considered contrary to the predominant values is a dismal place that I would not want to live in. 

bookmark_borderNo need for journalists to apologize for being journalists

I began this post a while ago and did not have a chance to finish it until now, so it’s a bit out of date. Despite this, I am still going to weigh in with my thoughts on a controversy in which student journalists at Northwestern University apologized for… practicing journalism.

This situation arose when former Attorney General Jeff Sessions visited campus, and many students decided to protest. Some of the protesters voiced their opinions peacefully, while others decided to climb through the windows of the lecture hall and forcibly push their way inside to disrupt Sessions’ speech. Two student reporters with the Daily Northwestern had the audacity to interview people in the crowd outside. Afterwards they also used a school directory to look up phone numbers of students involved in the protest and ask them if they would be willing to be interviewed. Additionally, during the protest, a student photographer took pictures of the clash between protesters and police and posted these to Twitter.

“I snapped into the journalistic response of making images,” the photographer, Colin Boyle, explained. “I was just trying to tell the story of what was going on… If something happened, God forbid, I was the only camera that was non-police-owned in that area, to my knowledge.”

Sounds reasonable to me.

However, student activists quickly began making a brouhaha, complaining that the publication of their names and identities might enable the university to punish them for their actions. As a result, the paper redacted a protester’s name from their story and Boyle deleted any tweets with photos showing protesters’ faces.

The Daily Northwestern‘s editorial board apologized in an editorial, which read,

We recognize that we contributed to the harm students experienced, and we wanted to apologize for and address the mistakes that we made that night. Some protesters found photos posted to reporters’ Twitter accounts retraumatizing and invasive. Those photos have since been taken down.

In my opinion, the newspaper has absolutely nothing to apologize for. They made no mistakes by covering the protest; the true mistake was to take down the content and to apologize.

When someone chooses to participate in a public protest, they are protesting, well, publicly. And integral part of participating in a protest is the fact that you are in public, and therefore will be seen and potentially photographed by people. It makes no sense for a protester to object to being photographed. If anything, protesters should want as much media coverage as possible, since drawing attention to one’s message and cause is the main purpose of a protest.

Additionally, the students who disrupted Sessions’ speech deserve to be punished, and anything that makes it easier for them to be identified and held accountable for their actions is a good thing, not a bad thing. Disrupting a speech is not OK. It is not fair to the speaker or to the people who have come to hear the speech. For a mob of people to drown out the views of a person with whom they disagree is bullying.

Contrary to the words used in the Daily‘s editorial, the anti-Sessions protesters did not experience any harm as far as I can tell, nor were they traumatized. How is it traumatizing that a person with whom you disagree is giving a speech? How does it cause harm? Anyone who did not wish to hear Sessions’ words could simply have chosen not to attend his speech. If anyone was harmed or traumatized, it would be Sessions and the people who went to the lecture hall hoping to hear him speak. The protesters went out of their way to cause a conflict. They are the aggressors in this situation, not the ones traumatized or harmed. They do not have a right to avoid punishment for their actions, and the newspaper and its reporters should not have modified, redacted, or taken down any of their reporting to accommodate them.

bookmark_borderAl-Baghdadi obituary: the Washington Post did nothing wrong

The Washington Post received a lot of criticism recently for its coverage of the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The newspaper’s headline read:

“Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State, dies at 48.”

Many people, including Ivanka Trump, believed that this headline was too positive for the leader of a violent organization and that the term “terrorist” would have been more appropriate than “austere religious scholar.”

The headline was quickly changed, and an editor at the Post explained that the original headline never should have been published.

There wouldn’t be anything wrong with using the word “terrorist,” but there was nothing wrong with the Post’s choice of headline, either, and there was no need to change it. The headline captures the fact that al-Baghdadi died, the fact that he had fundamentalist religious beliefs, and the fact that he was the leader of ISIS. “Austere religious scholar” is a neutral, and factually accurate, description. It is not a compliment, nor it is an insult. It is neither positive or negative. And using neutral language is exactly what all newspapers should do.

Columnist Robert Roe at the Maysville Ledger Independent took issue with the fact that the Post published the story about al-Baghdadi’s death in the obituaries section, writing that the paper’s editors “mislead their readers with the false narrative that this animal was something akin to a diplomatic religious leader.” I’m not sure what is wrong with publishing al-Baghdadi’s death notice in the obituaries section. There’s no rule that only admirable people are allowed to have obituaries written about them. Just as newspapers should describe things using neutral language and allow readers to form their own opinions, they should also publish obituaries for a variety of public figures and allow readers to make their own judgments about which of these public figures they find admirable and which they do not.

Jesse White, a columnist at the Mesabi Daily News, went so far as to suggest that the headline should have read, “Noted scumbag, rapist, torture expert, all-around piece of [expletive] and now former ISIS leader is dead: Good riddance.” He added that a sub-heading should have told readers that al-Baghdadi “blew himself up (along with three of his kids) instead of taking a bullet to the head from a member of our special forces on Saturday because he was a psychopathic coward.”

This type of language is a perfect example of what a newspaper should not do. A newspaper should never, under any circumstances, describe a person as a “scumbag,” a “coward,” or a “piece of [expletive]’ in an article. Other than on the editorial page, the job of a newspaper is to provide facts, not opinions. Language like this is not merely opinion, it is inflammatory and personally insulting. It would be completely unprofessional and inappropriate for a newspaper article to describe a person in such insulting terms, no matter who the person is, and it is preposterous to suggest that a newspaper should do so.

No concerns about neutrality or professionalism stopped the Boston Herald from characterizing al-Baghdadi’s death as “taking out the trash” on its front page:

A newspaper should never describe anyone’s death as “taking out the trash,” no matter what horrible things the person did and no matter how widely hated the person is. Hatred for a person, whether justified or not, is an opinion, and newspapers should not express opinions (other than on the editorial page). It’s the Herald’s headline, not the Washington Post’s, that should be the target of outrage and criticism.