Jewish World Review April 16, 2013/ 6 Iyar, 5773
Shut up, he explained
By Paul Greenberg
There was something familiar, eerily familiar, about the stories that a reporter named
These folks found it more prudent to keep their views to themselves, even if that meant not addressing problems that badly needed addressing. Because to express them might be asking for trouble.
What was so familiar about their stories? Just reverse their fears and grievances, and you get a reasonable facsimile of how a lot of black folks must have felt in the old
Sure enough, as soon as
The piece in the magazine was scarcely great journalism -- a similar mix of grievances and gossip could probably be put together in any large city where a growing black population outnumbers the white residents in its inner core, many of whom feel pushed aside.
Publishing such a piece wouldn't even have required any great courage -- if it hadn't sparked such an over-the-top reaction from city hall. For the mayor went beyond criticism; he sicced the city's thought police, aka the
If the magazine was guilty of disturbing the peace, it was guilty only in a way journalism should disturb the peace -- by bringing attention to dissatisfactions and injustices -- much the way newspapers in the South who were doing their job focused public attention on the grievances of the black community back when racial segregation was producing separate but unequal societies.
Freedom of the press is not just the freedom to say popular things, or it would not be much of a freedom at all. To quote Mr.
Maybe someone should send a copy of Holmes' dissent in U.S. v. Schwimmer (1929), Mr.
First Amendment or no First Amendment, freedom of the press or no freedom of the press, the mayor of
To quote from the conclusion of the mayor's letter/diatribe: "I therefore request that the
The mayor could scarcely have provided more convincing evidence that all those white folks who told Mr. Huber they felt intimidated had good reason for their fears, for the mayor of
To sum up, the repressive spirit of the Inquisition seems alive and well in, of all places, the City of Brotherly Love. Listening to the mayor, you can almost get a whiff of the medieval auto-da-fé. What next, the ceremonial burning at the stake?
The magazine's editor now has been summoned to appear before a meeting of the city's Human Relations commission Thursday. Here's hoping the editor stands his ground and by the First Amendment. Because the surest way to encourage more such bullying is to give in to it.
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