The Stranger, the Seattle alt-weekly that’s home to Dan Savage’s column, agreed to publish an ad (PDF) from Pastor Ken Hutcherson, the raging bigot last seen marrying Rush Limbaugh, that it knew to be demonstrably false. The paper’s gimmick? It would take the blood money and donate it all to GLSEN, the youth organization dedicated to making schools safer. Does that mean, if Elton John agreed to donate Limbaugh’s $1 million fee to Tim Gill’s PAC Fight Back NY we’d let him off the hook for his hate gig?
Except The Stranger‘s situation is a bit different. It knowingly published material it knew to be false. It published a whole blog post detailing all the things it knew to be untrue about the ad. And while it’s admirable — and perhaps the only ethical thing to do — to donate the money to GLSEN, a newspaper’s first responsibility is to its readers. Namely, don’t lead them astray, whether with shoddy journalism or a running a pharmaceutical ad riddled with half-truths.
And while The Stranger can point to Hutcherson’s prior complaining about papers like the Snoqualmie Valley Record not running his ads as one of the reasons it caved, there’s a very simple reason to reject his copy: It’s full of lies.
The decision is not a matter of respecting one’s right to free speech or the exercise of religion. It’s about telling the truth.
If you’ll recall in November this website let readers choose whether the Mormon Church should advertiser on Queerty. More than 1,500 of you voted, and the majority (53%) said we shouldn’t accept the campaign. So we didn’t.