Usually after I’ve posted a piece that touches on race or homosexuality, some dunderhead with a grievance and a keyboard clicks “send” on an e-mail filled with hate that scalds the eyes. This happens so much on Twitter that I’ve started collecting them in a file for later use. But from time to time, I pluck one of the electronic missives to respond to so that folks don’t think that 19th-century thinking isn’t alive and well in the 21st.
A West Virginia newspaper is being criticized for doing the same thing. The Lincoln Journal in Hamlin has a “gripes and gratitudes” phone line that let’s readers comments on stories in the paper. One story about the firing of lesbian school teacher Kelli Burns elicited a shocking response. Fast forward to 1:40 to hear the audio.
We were really glad to hear that School Board is getting rid of them queers. The next thing is we need to get rid of all the n****rs, the spics, the kikes and the wops. You know even them Catholics, they are wrong as baby eaters. We need to clear them people out and have good, white, God-fearing Christians and everybody else needs to be put to death for their abominations. We’ll keep Lincoln County white and right. Thank you.
“It’s hard to believe opinions and bigotries such as this still exist,” Burns said. But they do. And it is incumbent upon all of us to point them out and call them out. That kind of hate thrives on anonymity. Those who spew it use our custom of not saying impolitic things in polite company the way bugs use the underbelly of a rock for shelter.
The Lincoln Journal made a gutsy call to publicize a bigoted viewpoint on a controversial subject. The Post most certainly wouldn’t. “Letters can be provocative but not inflammatory,” said letters editor Michael Larabee. The letters to the editor section “isn’t the place to show what a crazy person thinks,” he added. True. That’s why I do it.