Thursday, April 12, 2018

Times Dispatch Runs Mealy Mouth Response to Publishing Hate Speech

Image from GayRVA.

Earlier in the week I wrote about the Richmond Times Dispatch's publish of an anti-LGBT advertisement place by the Virginia Christian Alliance ("VCA"), a certified hate group.  In response to the overwhelming negative action to the ad, the Times Dispatch issued basically a non-apology and gave a mealy mouthed response about "freedom of speech" although that does not guaranty one the right to have hate speech published.  I strongly suspect that had the ad been a rant against blacks, Jews or other minorities, it would not have been published. Especially if the Times Dispatch had bothered to check out the facts on the Virginia Christian Alliance the way the Southern Poverty Law Centered has done.  Once again, I suspect what was in play was undeserved deference to religion and those who bandy about the "Christian" label even though their behavior and beliefs are the antithesis to Christ's message.  A column in GayRVA looks at the disappointing response of the Times Dispatch and the ugliness of the Virginia Christian Alliance. Here are column excerpts (NOTE what Republicans are in bed with VCA):
[T]he Richmond Times-Dispatch ran an advertisement from the Virginia Christian Alliance in their Tuesday, April 10 edition. The ad was full of anti-LGBTQ hate . . . If you did miss our article about it, it seems you were in the minority; indeed, the RTD saw it themselves and issued a “response” — they didn’t call it an apology, because it wasn’t one.
In the brief response from Times-Dispatch Publisher Tom Silvestri, which you can read in full here, Silvestri said the Virginia Christian Alliance ad “does not represent the views of The Times-Dispatch” and that the decision to run it “was guided by First Amendment freedoms that allow for a divergence of viewpoints and opinion.” He then stated that response from staff and others “has prompted us to begin a review of our content guidelines for future paid advocacy advertising.”
As I wrote on Tuesday, the ad was “written in the kinds of hateful terms that any reputable publication should think twice about printing — even if they did get paid for it.”
Indeed, Times-Dispatch reporter Graham Moomaw seemed to agree with us, tweeting yesterday in response to the issue that “there is no First Amendment right to have your views printed in a privately owned newspaper. The First Amendment is what gives newspapers the right to reject submissions (paid or unpaid) that don’t meet their standards.”
Standards should particularly be brought to bear on any content submitted by Virginia Christian Alliance (VCA), the group who placed the ad. They were listed as a hate group earlier this year by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). At the time of this designation, VCA president Don Blake told the Baltimore Sun that VCA are “as opposite as you can get from a hate group,” and that “we’re pro-Christ and pro-Bible. We aren’t anti-anything.”
The Sun then pointed out that the group’s website linked to articles with headlines like “Fear Of Muslims Is Not A Phobia, But Rational,” and “Islam Is Satanic, Says Dallas Pastor Robert Jeffress.” To this list, we’d add our own discoveries: “The Top Ten Myths About Homosexuality,” and “Homosexual Behavior Is Inherently Destructive,” for starters.
Why is a group like this even getting the time of day from the Richmond Times-Dispatch?
Virginia politicians including Congressman Dave Brat and Delegate Nick Freitas (who is currently running for Tim Kaine’s Senate seat) have previously been awarded the VCA’s “Courageous Leadership Award.” Keep that in mind next time you go to the voting booth.
Most politicians are smart enough not to enthusiastically accept awards from groups that boldly touted white supremacist views. By the same token, it would be shocking for a newspaper to accept advertising from white nationalist groups, regardless of how overtly they pointed out that it was just an advertisement. Why should anti-LGBTQ hate be different?
Hateful views toward marginalized groups of any kind should never be tolerated as part of public discourse. This was the message we were sending with our first article. And we will continue to repeat it until the Richmond Times-Dispatch gets it.
 Kudos to GayRVA and shame on the Times Dispatch, Dave Brat and Nick Freitas.

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