The Times Journal & Russell County News
Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2014 — RUSSELL SPRINGS & JAMESTOWN, KENTUCKY — russellcounty.net
Get online news updates FREE - Subscribe:  [?]
Google

In My Opinion ... by Ron Phillips
In July 10 Issue
Russell County News

A Little Too Close to Home!  Just a little too close to home is what first came to mine when I read about some Tennessee Kroger Stores and a KFC banning a small hometown newspaper from their shelves for so called “hate” speech.

Here is the story that was recently posted on Fox News.comó A small Tennessee-based newspaper has become the center of a free speech firestorm after it was banned from a grocery store chain and a KFC for allegedly publishing “hate” speech. The Rutherford Reader, a family owned and operated business, runs feature columns of local interest, many of which lately have related to controversy surrounding a mosque being built in Rutherford County.

The columns didn’t sit well with at least one patron who complained to several companies that they amounted to hate speech after a guest columnist in April referred to Islam as “evil.” One month later, the Reader was dropped from Kroger grocery stores, and soon after from a local KFC.

Now the paper is threatening to sue, saying this is a blatant breach of its First Amendment rights. “When a group or individual can force a corporation to take something out of their store which is printed material and not offensive, then we’re headed in the wrong direction,” Pete Doughtie, the Rutherford Reader’s co-owner and publisher, told FoxNews.com.

But the Reader’s material was offensive, Kroger concluded.

“The free publication rack at Kroger is managed by a third party, Distributech. It was brought to their attention that The Rutherford Reader had developed a consistent pattern of hateful rhetoric,” Kroger spokeswoman Melissa Eads told FoxNews.com. “After both parties reviewed several issues of The Reader, it was determined that Distributech would no longer distribute the publication. We support them in this decision as neither of us support hate rhetoric of any kind.”

Doughtie says when he asked Distributech for examples of hate speech used in the paper, the company was unable to give him one.

“We shouldn’t be writing hate speech, but I can’t find anybody that can define hate speech in our product,” he said. Anthony Mijares, who complained to Kroger about the Reader in April, said he saw examples of hate speech in an April “Guest Column.” The column called Islam “evil” and called for an end to Muslim immigration. “While I respect the works of moderate Muslims such as Irshad Manji (‘Faith Without Fear’) and Tarek Fatah (‘Chasing A Mirage’), I wholeheartedly, unfortunately, must assert that the U.S. must halt all future Muslim immigration, until Muslims acquiesce to living within the legal structures of their host nations rather than striving to restructure nations under an evil, de-humanizing, backward and defiling 12th century ideology, even should this take the next 50 years,” guest columnist Justin O. Smith wrote in the April 8-14 issue.

Mijares said the comment left him troubled.

“When The Rutherford Reader publishes the statement that Islam is evil, defiling and dehumanizing, all you have to do is substitute the word Judaism (in place of Islam) and you know what that kind of commentary is without question,” Mijares told the Tennessean. “People would get it immediately. That is hate speech.”

Doughtie says the paper’s “not out to hurt anybody” and has never called for violence against any person or group, but by publishing opinion pieces the Reader is bound to offend someone, and those who don’t like it can simply choose not to read it.  

“I pick a lot of things up that I don’t like but I just put them back, I don’t try to have them removed,” he said.  

Doughtie may not have a legal leg to stand on if he pursues a lawsuit, a First Amendment expert suggested to the Tennessean. Gene Policinski of the First Amendment Center noted that censorship originates in government suppression, not a business decision.

“In terms of the spirit of the First Amendment, though, I think it is true that more voices are always better than fewer voices,” Policinski told the Tennessean.

Doughtie told FoxNews.com that as “the only conservative paper in the area,” it’s important that the Reader be allowed to show the “other side” of issues that affect Americans. It appears Doughtie is not alone. Protesters gathered outside at least one Kroger store Saturday with picket signs sporting messages like “1st Amendment Trashed by Kroger and Distributech.” And a manager at the KFC that banned the Reader says the company has received dozens of complaints since the paper was taken off the shelves, including her own.

“I’ve made my opinion known,” Smyrna KFC Manager Sandy Stahr told FoxNews.com. “I just feel it’s wrong that out of all the people that enjoyed reading it when they came in to eat by themselves, and because one person complained they’re going to take it out.”  

For Kroger’s part, Ead says the supermarket received several complaints, not just Mijares’.

Doughtie says his increased circulation numbers show the Reader’s supporters in this dispute far outweigh its critics.

“We’ve had a heck of a lot more new subscribers. We have 14 new distribution points where businesses have called us and said they want our paper in their store,” he said. “We’ve even had to increase our printing.”

Despite the rise in business Doughtie says the paper has hired a lawyer and plans to fight in whatever capacity it can in hopes of sending a message.

“I’ve never sued anyone in my life but I think American people are getting tired of being pushed around and having stuff forced on us that we don’t want,” he said. “As long as we can print and as long as I’m breathing we’re going to continue on the course that we are on and I couldn’t care less who doesn’t like it.”

As a columnist, the position that Kroger’s has taken in Tennessee disturbs me greatly.  I realize that the content of the Opinion columns that I write are not always popular with some of my readers, but the solution is simple; “Don’t Read It!”

As a free society, we have to accept the bad with the good.  We do not want our government or retail establishments screening or banishing books or publications from public scrutiny.  

History reminds us that a fellow named Hitler tried that once and it had a less than pleasant outcome.  

Thank you for reading and I also thank the Publisher of this paper for giving me the freedom to express “My Opinion.”


May God Bless...

Ron Phillips

Content Management Powered by CuteNews
SUBSCRIBE to The Times Journal: CLICK HERE

SPONSORED LINKS


Publish Yourself PUBLISH YOURSELF
You can publish news about your group or organization directly to our site, using your computer.
CLICK HERE
Laker Band LAKER BAND
Visit the award-winning official web site for the Russell County Marching Band.
CLICK HERE
Lake Cumberland Web Cams LIVE WEB CAMS
Views of Lake Cumberland as it is right now, from a number of web cams.
CLICK HERE
Lake Cumberland LAKE CUMBERLAND
lakecumberland.com
Official site for Lake Cumberland with everything for the lake visitor and fisherman.
CLICK HERE
The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
-
P.O. Box 190
120 Wilson St.
Russell Springs KY 42642
Phone: 270-866-3191
Fax: 270-866-3198
Russell County News is a weekly newspaper issued on Saturdays, and is mailed free to every address in Russell County, Ky. It was first published on February 1, 1913.
-
404 Monument Square
Jamestown KY 42629
Phone: 270-343-5700
Publisher:
David Davenport
(publisher@tjrcn.com)
Managing Editor:
Greg Wells
(editor@tjrcn.com)
News & Sports Editor:
Derek Aaron
(sports@tjrcn.com)
Advertising Manager:
Stephanie Smith
(ads@tjrcn.com)
Business Manager:
Kim Haydon
(business@tjrcn.com)
Production Manager:
Renee Daffron
(people@tjrcn.com)
Jamestown Office:
Kim Graham
(rcnoffice@tjrcn.com)
PUBLIC MEETINGS
Members of the public may attend meetings. Boards or agencies may schedule other meetings at special times, but are required to notify the public.
FISCAL COURT: 2nd Monday of month, 6 p.m. in the Courthouse
RUSSELL SPRINGS CITY: 2nd Thursday of month, 6 p.m. in the City Hall Municipal Room
JAMESTOWN CITY: 3rd Thursday of month, 6 p.m. in basement meeting room at City Hall
SCHOOL BOARD: 3rd Monday of month, 6:30 p.m., Board of Education office in Jamestown
LIBRARY BOARD: 2nd Tuesday of month, 5 p.m. at Jamestown Library
AIRPORT BOARD: 1st Tuesday of month, 5 p.m. at Airport
TOURISM COMMISSION: 2nd Wednesday of month, 12:30 p.m. at Tourism Office
CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: 3rd Tuesday of month, noon at The Cove restaurant
LOCAL & AREA
NEWS SITES
The links below open new windows. We are not responsible for the content of the sites.
Laker Country WJRS
(Russell Springs)
lakercountry.com/
WKYM-1017 (Monticello)
wkym.com/
Adair Progress (Columbia)
adairprogress.com/
Casey County News (Liberty)
caseynews.net/
Clinton County News (Albany)
clintonnews.net/
Cumberland County News (Burkesville)
burkesville.com/ccn/
Wayne County Outlook (Monticello)
wcoutlook.com/
Somerset
Commonwealth-Journal
somerset-kentucky.com/
Danville
Advocate-Messenger
amnews.com/
Lexington Herald-Leader
kentucky.com/
Louisville Courier-Journal
courier-journal.com/
WKYT-TV, Lexington
wkyt.com/
WBKO-TV, Bowling Green
wbko.com/
USEFUL SITES
The links below open new windows. We are not responsible for the content of the sites.

RUSSELL CO. OFFICIALS
RUSSELL COUNTY SCHOOLS
RUSSELL CO. LIBRARY

LAKE CUMBERLAND
STATE RESORT PARK
TV LISTINGS:
Choose your service and provider
SOMERSET MOVIE SHOWTIMES

.