July 22, 2013
The C-Ville Weekly newspaper is apologizing for a racist rant that appeared in its most recent issue. Protesters organized a rally against the paper on Monday afternoon, prompting the editor to issue an apology.
The offensive comment was a profane paragraph, criticizing African-Americans for asking for free food at restaurants.
"To call us, 'black m-f's,' that's hate," said Joy Johnson, one of the protesters. "C-Ville has a privilege of printing things that are positive. Not things that are so hateful."
The comment appeared in The Rant, a section of the paper that publishes anonymous voicemail messages they receive. Deirdre Gilmore, another protester, says the paper needs to take away the anonymity.
"People should not be allowed to hide behind The Rant," Gilmore said. "If you feel a certain type of way, you need to show your face. It's dangerous because it gives people the platform for hatred."
The newspaper's editor-in-chief, Giles Morris, is offering an apology.
"They were right and I apologized on behalf of the paper," Morris said. "Put that online (Monday) morning."
The paper will publish the apology in its Tuesday issue. The entire text of the apology can be read at the bottom of this article.
This is the first apology Morris has made, since he joined the paper two years ago.
"It's our responsibility to vet those comments," Morris said. "And we missed that one."
However Morris stands by the value of The Rant in general, comparing it to the free speech wall on the Downtown Mall.
"Sometimes it shows you the ugly side of the community," Morris said. "That's not the worst thing for people to be aware of."
But the protesters say free speech has limits.
"Free speech ends where it endangers people," said 13-year-old Ammon Winder, one of the protest organizers. "I think that this endangers people by helping to create a very intolerant climate which can help induce hate crimes."
"We still have a problem," Gilmore said. "Even though people don't want to face it and they don't want to talk about race. We still have a race problem."
Below is the entire apology issued by Morris:
"Because of an editorial mistake, last week's paper included a racist rant in The Rant section. We regret the error and we apologize for the hurt it caused. Our readers demand a higher standard from their community paper. The Rant is designed as a vehicle for free speech and our policy has been only to edit rants that contain libel or hate speech. Giving voice to racist sentiments is not consistent with the mission of this paper or the aim of The Rant."