I have been inundated with emails and letters from readers who are incensed with our editorial staff’s decision to green-light publication of last week’s editorial “Kill ‘Em All and Let God Sort ‘Em Out.” Most of you who have taken time to write have demanded we cancel your subscriptions. Others have issued personal, detailed threats. I have read each and every one of your carelessly crafted, semi-literate missives and have a message:
I hear you.
Before I throw my editorial team under the metaphorical bus and selectively demand resignations, I’d like to rationalize their decision making process for you in the hope that firing and mansplaining makes this all go away.
It is true that one of our team’s guiding principles is clicks sell advertising. But this instance raises significant issues about newsworthiness, amplifying a range of voices in the public arena, and the duty of publications to their readers. The intern who accepted, read and published the editorial essay in question, unedited, has promised me that she weighed all of these factors before sharing the unhinged, virulent rant of her white Christo-Nationalist uncle. While I can quibble with her about the propriety of throwing gasoline onto a fiery national debate about civil rights, policing and the role of the military in quelling unrest, I do agree with her that his acid words are newsworthy, seeing that they come from a duly elected county commissioner in the rural wastelands of North Dakota.
The writer is not just a writer, but the representative of the 153 citizens who voted him into office. So when he proposes the military conduct “a mass cleansing of urban streets, so that God can then judge the holy and consign sinners to eternal hell,” he’s not just speaking for himself, but for an underrepresented group of Real Americans.
I grant that his might be a fringe position, but lifting up the voices of marginalized sod busters and cranks is essential to democracy, and I stand by our right to do so even if it means I need to spend my afternoon shopping for a new staff for our editorial department.