“I am free of all prejudice. I hate everyone equally. ” W.C. Fields
“Thus the courage of the secular left: If you’re going to be ‘provocative’, it’s best to do it with people who can’t be provoked.” (Mark Steyn)
CHICAGO, March 16, 2012—On March 9th The New York Times published a bigoted, highly charged, anti-Catholic advertisement. It was sponsored by an anti-religious hate group, Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF). FFRF paid $39,000.00 for the ad.
The advertisement was a cartoonish mock-up of an open letter published by Annie Laurie Gaylor on the FFRF website. It used ugly stereotypes and bigoted messaging to convince Catholics to leave the Church.
Ms. Gaylor is a smear artist. The New York Times, by publishing the advertisement, legitimized her beliefs and gave full credibility to the smear.
Former journalist Pam Geller, of the blog Atlas Shrugs, wrote a parallel advertisement, parodying and mimicking the bigoted anti-Catholic ad. She replaced “Catholic(s)” with “Islam” and “Muslim(s).” Then she tried to buy space for her ad in The New York Times.
The Times refused to run Ms. Geller’s ad. When she asked for an explanation, the Times hid behind the First Amendment to justify publishing the anti-Catholic advertisement. It then hid behind the excuse of protecting the safety of our troops and the possibility of violent reaction for refusing to publish Ms. Geller’s anti-Islam ad.
Ms. Geller was contacted via email regarding her seriousness and willingness to pay $39,000.00 for the ad. She responded, stating she was “very serious” about running the ad.
There is no First Amendment obligation for any newspaper to run ads that its editorial board considers offensive. They routinely reject for publication letters, guest editorials, and announcements for weddings they consider unworthy of notice (often devastating stressed-out young brides). The New York Times could have refused FFRF’s $39,000.00 check just as easily as they refused Ms. Geller’s.
Or because they lost $40 million last year, they might have prefered to practice equal opportunity bigotry and accept both ads. The ads were, after all, identically bigoted and tasteless.
The New York Times has a double standard when it comes to advertising bigotry and hatred. They tolerate and legitimize anti-Catholic bigotry, but they otherwise find bigotry in bad taste. They find it ethical to profit from bigotry against Catholics, other Christians, and Jews, but unethical to profit from bigotry against Muslims.
Or they know that Catholics and Jews will respond to bigotry against them with a stoic shrug and a turned cheek, while Muslims will descend on them in fury.
This double standard spotlights the intellectual, moral and ethical decay of the esteemed Gray Lady. Protected speech is protected speech; bigotry is bigotry.
Hatred is hatred.
The Times isn’t alone in its selective opposition to bigotry. Institutional media extend protection to some groups and deny it to others, picking and choosing which groups they will treat with respect. Some groups they denigrate, others they don’t, on critera that can only be explained rationally in terms of their own prejudices.
With persecution of Christians on the rise across the African continent, the Middle East, and the Near East, one would think The New York Times, America’s “newspaper of record,” the bastion of journalistic integrity and ethics, would be sensitive to publishing hateful and bigoted messages targeting any religion. To think that would require one to ignore the egregious hypocrisy of the institutional media and the professional Left. The Times is the de facto leader of both.
This hypocrisy runs deep and wide. Hiding behind the First Amendment or the safety of troops is a sham. It is the big lie.
By running the anti-Catholic advertisement, with all of its negative ugly stereotypes, the Times aligned itself with religious bigotry. By refusing to run the anti-Islam version, it made clear that it recognized the ugliness of the ad it published.
Who will be next on The New York Times hit list of hate? Mormons? Methodists? Evangelicals? Pagans?
Annie Lauire Gaylor has every right to hate whomever she wants. Her organization has a website she can use as a platform to express her hatred and bigotry. Her organization is free to spend money on search engine and social media optimization to spread her hatred.
The New York Times has no obligation to give her a wider platform. They chose to do it, understanding clearly that her message is hateful. They chose to publish one ad and reject the other either because they share FFRF’s hatred of Catholics but don’t hate Muslims, or because their commitment to the First Amendment only extends to hitting groups they know won’t hit back. They’re either bigots or cowards.
The Times should revise their guidelines on religious bigotry. If they are going to run bigoted ads, they can at least be even-handed about it. Their commitment to the First Amendment honors the speech of all or the speech of none.
They should also revise their stylebook to reflect the proper way to insult religion and properly express religious bigotry and hatred.
While people can criticize Pamela Geller for her political or religious views, she should be commended for exposing The New York Times as wanton bigoted hypocrites. That is a major achievement.
Peter V. Bella is a retired Chicago Police Officer, freelance writer and photographer, cook, and raconteur. He likes to be the sharp stick that pokes, prods, and annoys. His opinions are his and his alone.
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