Friday, May 29, 2015

Rural Pa. newspaper apologizes for running letter suggesting President Obama be executed

A rural Pennsylvania newspaper has run into hot water for publishing a letter to the editor this week in which a reader suggested President Obama be executed for his response to ISIS capturing Ramadi. The letter by W. Richard Stover, published Monday in The Daily Item in Sunbury, (Best Places map) said, "I think the appropriate and politically correct term is regime change. Forgive me for being blunt, but throughout history this has previously been accompanied by execution by guillotine, firing squad, public hanging."

The Daily Item, which received more than 100 letters complaining about Stover's letter, ran an apology on Thursday in an editorial, which read in part:

"There is no excuse for the letter The Daily Item published on Memorial Day. We did something we shouldn’t have, and the readers who called us on it deserve accountability.

Nearly a decade of provocative and divisive rhetoric may have inured us to language that calls the president of the United States 'the coward-in-chief' and the disrespectful use of the president’s first name. Both those elements are common to corners of the mediascape, having been uttered by commentators and candidates for president.

But we should have recognized that the final two metaphorical paragraphs of the Ramadi letter were inescapably an incitement to have the chief executive of our government executed. They should have been deleted."

Among the responses from readers:

"I can’t help but ask, 'What in the world happened here?' Have the responsible members of your editorial board been dismissed? I’m all for freedom of speech but understand, too, the concept of yelling 'fire' in a crowded theater."

"I am thoroughly disgusted that you would choose to print, on Memorial Day, a letter to the editor which demands regime change and assassination of the President of the United States."

"Free speech is one thing; calling for a lynching is at least infantile, if not illegal. I don’t know or have the words that could describe how low you are!"

"Your editorial and letter printed on Memorial Day: so 'no bells went off when your editor read the letter?' Clearly you need a new editor."

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