By: James-Clifton Spires, Kentucky Equality Federation's Political Advisor
The Middlesboro Daily News was finally shamed into making a statement about the Ku Klux Klan coming to Pineville. Note that they don't say how they were first made aware of the rally, just that it was a "reliable source." If it was so reliable, why not share some details about where it came from. So far, all they've indicated is that they found it on an Internet web site, which could be created by just about anyone. One of the first rules they teach in colleges these days is to not trust something just because you saw it on the Internet.
They take a dig at "The Diary of Anne Frank," and its sponsor, Middlesboro Little Theater, saying that very little information has been released about it --- they never heard of going out and digging for information, apparently. They knew when the audition dates were --- why didn't they send a reporter off to make a phone call to a member of the organization or something? Typical lazy Daily News, expecting to have the public write their news for them in the form of press releases (which the editor recycles and labels "Special to the Daily News") and not actually digging for stories about uplifting community events.
They also make fun of people who oppose racism and other KKK-oriented bigotry as "trying to become martyrs for the cause of their choice." I'm sure these people did not have "becoming martyrs" on thier minds:
- Four little African-American girls were killed in a KKK-sponsored church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, back in the 1960s
- Emmitt Till, and other persons of various skin colors who were lynched by KKK mobs in the 1950s.
- Three young civil rights workers who were murdered by the KKK and buried in an earthen dam in Mississippi during the same era.
Victims of hate crimes are victims, not people trying to be martyrs. People who commit murder or encourage people to commit murder --- as the KKK is on record as doing --- are murderers. Newspapers who are aware of such evil activities should react with outrage immediately, and not wait until they are forced to do so by an onslaught of public opinion.
They also claim to believe in the cause of the First Amendment --- with that cause also comes the responsibility of knowing what to publicize. Why do they not give Martin Luther King Day activities the kind of publicity that the Daily News gave the KKK rally --- or why not publish an article (for the first time) on the activities of Mount Moriah Church --- a predominately black congregation in Bell County?
The argument that the Middlesboro Daily News is dedicated to upright causes like opposing bigotry is lessened by their actions and their Marisa-Come-Lately editorial stance.
I urge everyone receiving this to write to Middlesboro Daily News editor Marisa Anders at email@example.com and express opposition to the presence of the KKK in Bell County and any part of Kentucky and also disappointment with The Middlesboro Daily News' efforts at publicizing this organization's horrible activities and at their wishy-washy editorial stance that focuses on petty issues and not on the fact that hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan are dangerous menaces to society.
Kentucky Equality Federation strongly criticized the newspapers’ handling of this story (more).
Taken from the Middlesboro Daily News
KKK rally unwelcome but still news
Since running the article on the KKK’s planned rally in the area, the Daily News has been inundated with comments — good and bad. The plans for the rally were brought to our attention by a reliable source, and we immediately thought the community should be aware of the event.
We wish we could only print good news. In an ideal world, the newspaper would be full of photos of children’s sports events, business openings, award ceremonies and other wonderful recognitions.
However, our obligation as professional journalists includes the job of bringing all the news to our readers. There are days when only murder, assaults, drugs and assorted arrests are the major news. Unfortunately, that is the reality of the world we live in.
When we were first made aware of the planned rally, no one knew why the group picked Bell County. We still don’t know.
There has been speculation that the Middlesboro Little Theatre’s production of “The Diary of Anne Frank” is the reason for the group’s choice of this area for its gathering. The production is scheduled for the weekend after the planned rally. Very little publicity has been released as of yet concerning the production; as of today, all we have received and published was an announcement of auditions dates which ran in early February. We sincerely doubt that KKK members from miles away would choose to rally the weekend before an event that most of Bell County was not even aware of yet.
Our opinion is that there isn’t a “legitimate” reason for the KKK rally, despite the best
efforts of a few individuals to become martyrs for the cause of their choice — racism, bigotry, etc. There are no legitimate reasons for hatred of any group, whether based on color, gender, sexual orientation, or any other reason.
Hate groups such as the KKK are not welcome in Bell County, but the Daily News will continue to publish their plans as we uncover them in order to best inform our community of any potential peril for our readers.
We will also continue to publish comments on our website, both for and against the rally. However, we will not publish comments that spam our system. Numerous comments from one individual using different names will not be published. Comments intended to slander individuals will not be published. Comments that address the issue on any story are welcome.
We believe in the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
We hope that if the KKK follows through with its plans, the assembly will be peaceful. We trust that our local law enforcement officials will do their best to ensure the community’s