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MESS IN THE PRESS

UK Newspaper In Hot Water For Publishing Homophobic Letter And Headline

“Take Heed, All You Homosexual Sinners” read the headline in last week’s edition of The Whitstable Timesa weekly community newspaper published in the town of Whitstable, England.

Underneath the headline is the following letter:

The confrontational Stonewall slogan (Some people are gay, get over it) that is currently touring our city, towns and villages via Stagecoach buses has caused me to think and remember what is written by the prophet Isaiah 3-9: ‘For the look on their faces bears witness against them; they proclaim their sin like Sodom: they do not hide it. Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves’.

The letter was submitted to the newspaper by someone who would not give his full name, simply referring to himself as “Mr. D. Bryson.”

Since publishing the letter, readers have criticized the newspaper for its decision to do so, but also for its choice of headline, which was not a quote from the letter itself. Many feel it was designed to offend people.

The paper’s Twitter page was quickly flooded with angry tweets. It also received a number of letters.

One reader stated that he would not be reading the paper any more, telling HoldTheFrontPage, “the headline gives a good indication of the views of the editor and staff and although I believe in freedom of speech, I also believe journalists should be intelligent enough to create an article that does not offend. Perhaps it’s time to review your equality policy!”

Another person said, “As it happens I am less offended by the content of his letter (I live in Kent after all and encounter such homophobic views regularly) than I am by your paper’s chosen header … To me it is deliberately designed to be provocative and if it was genuinely innocuous why not apologize instantly for any offense caused.”

But Rebecca Smith, editor of the newspaper, is refusing to apologize. She recently defended the letter, saying, “The letters pages are a place for people to air their views. This letter did represent an extreme view and the headline summarized that view.”

The paper also tweeted last week that its policy is to publish any letter it sees fit so long as the opinions expressed are not defamatory or illegal and so long as they do not “incite hatred.”

We’re not sure how we feel about that. Calling gay people sinners who have “brought evil upon themselves” kinda sorta seems to incite hatred to us.

By:           Graham Gremore
On:           Oct 16, 2013
Tagged: , ,
  • 12 Comments
    • fagburn
      fagburn

      And this is news in America?
      Do you not think the headline might have been taking the mick out of the letter?
      Do you think local papers shouldn’t be allowed to publish letters by people with silly views – they’d be pretty empty otherwise…

      Oct 16, 2013 at 12:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • 2eo
      2eo

      Considering the letters English papers print every day this is ridiculously small time.

      I’ve seen letters demanding muslims be killed and their corpses buried with shredded pig entrails. Black people should be forced to undergo treatment to become white. Gays should be beheaded. Pakistanis beheaded.

      The whole gammut of worthless is in our papers. At least in Britain these nutters are laughed at. America elects them.

      Oct 16, 2013 at 2:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ogre Magi
      Ogre Magi

      and people wonder why I hate christians

      Oct 16, 2013 at 4:37 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Stevenw
      Stevenw

      @fagburn: I didn’t know this was only a website for the citizens of the USA.

      @2eo: Blimey, what local papers are you reading?

      Oct 16, 2013 at 7:20 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Scribe38
      Scribe38

      @2eo: How am I suppose to turn white??? What treatment are these idiots talking about?

      Oct 16, 2013 at 7:48 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • LandStander
      LandStander

      @Scribe38: I was going to make a joke about Michael Jackson, but it might be in bad taste :P

      Oct 16, 2013 at 8:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ken
      Ken

      According to Ezekiel 16:19, “This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.” There we have it, a clear, concise, and Biblical definition of the sin of Sodom. In modern terms, the sin of Sodom was that they were Republicans.

      Also Ezekiel 16:53, “I will restore their fortunes, the fortunes of Sodom and her daughters…” If the people of Sodom were gay, the gay rights movement would be the divine vindication of gay people in fulfillment of prophecy.

      D. Bryson is not as good a Bible scholar as he thinks, and now the newspaper has exposed him.

      @2eo: Astute observation of American elections.

      Oct 16, 2013 at 9:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ken
      Ken

      That first quote is Ezekiel 16:49, but no one will look it up. The homophobes don’t want to read it because then the Bible would make sense. And the victims of the homophobes don’t want to read it because then the Bible would make sense. :-)

      Oct 16, 2013 at 9:27 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • 2eo
      2eo

      @Scribe38: I don’t know, maybe you cake yourself in layer upon layer of talc until it permanently alters your skin pigmentation, which I assume is possible through the power of r@cism.

      Oct 17, 2013 at 6:01 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • HirsuteOne
      HirsuteOne

      Ironic that many newspapers in the US states that still support bigotry won’t print a gay marriage, commitment or anniversary announcement, but will without out doubt print something like this.

      Oct 17, 2013 at 11:24 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • HirsuteOne
      HirsuteOne

      @Ken:

      Thank you for pointing this out. It is important to understand the ways the bigots use the Bible against us. Yes, telling them the truth and pointing out other truths, such as the story about the Roman centurion and his Pais, will certainly make their heads explode.

      Oct 17, 2013 at 11:27 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • iggy azalea
      iggy azalea

      This is what free speech looks like:

      No, really. This is what free speech looks like:

      Oct 17, 2013 at 10:39 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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