February 16, 2003
Not in our paper

The Saturday edition of Stars and Stripes had this amusing article, about the "Not In Our Name" group getting their knickers in a bunch over a refusal to print their ad. Apparently, S & S decided to accept a full-page ad, and then later changed their mind, after seeing the ad copy. Now, the group is threatening to sue the publisher, along with the usual allegations of "censorship".

“Stars and Stripes is under no obligation to accept ads,” (Not In Our Name leader Clark) Kissinger said, “but once they do so, they shouldn’t be deciding based on content — that’s censorship.”

No, it's not. It's exercising editorial control of the paper's contents, a valid business decision. NION does not have a right to have their ad published if the paper refuses.

Most liberal groups have trouble with the concept that censorship can only come from the government, not from any private group. (Stars and Stripes is authorized by the DoD, but it is a private concern, with an independent editorial policy.) Perhaps they conflate the two concepts because they fervently advocate wholesale government control of private businesses; they cannot conceive of anything outside the purview of the government. Censorship is when the government steps in and prevents someone from publishing something, not when a media group refuses to publish what you have to say.

The ad has also been rejected by the publishers of the Army Times and its sister publications for the other services, according to the group’s de facto leader, Clark Kissinger.

Kissinger said he was not sure whether his group would sue the publisher of the Times, the Gannett newspaper company. He said no other newspaper had refused the ad.

This attitude undercuts their claim that they are threatening Stars and Stripes only because they changed their minds about accepting the advertisement. Gannett's military papers refused before they saw the ad copy.

Kelsch offered the group a spot on the opinion pages, or the opportunity to put its position in a letter to the editor, which the group rejected.

It may not be as flashy as a full-page ad, but it certainly is a forum in the paper, further belying their claims of "censorship". It is also likely that it would be free, as I am not aware of papers charging to run guest opinions or letters.

It instead had a law firm send a letter to Stripes demanding the ad be run, stating a “failure to do so, will lead to litigation.”

Why does this not surprise me in the least? I am sure that a lawsuit would be dismissed, and I hope Stars and Stripes refuses to back down from its position.

posted on February 16, 2003 01:49 PM


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