Moral Low Ground

Civil Liberties

Lincoln Journal, West Virginia Newspaper, Prints Reader’s Shockingly Racist & Homophobic Rant

A West Virginia newspaper has raised eyebrows and ire by publishing a transcript of a reader’s racist and homophobic rant that critics are calling hate speech.

The controversial anonymous commentary was published in the ‘Gripes and Gratitudes’ section of Wednesday’s Lincoln Journal. At issue was the termination of Kelli Burns, a lesbian who taught at Guyan Valley Middle School in Branchland until she accused school board officials of forcing students to lodge complaints against her claiming she attempted to “turn them gay.”

One local left a voicemail to the Journal expressing his approval of Burns’ firing, and the paper printed a transcript of the hateful message:

“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 niggers, the spicks, 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.”

WCHS interviewed Lincoln County residents, most– but not all– of whom expressed their disgust at the shocking bigotry published in their local paper.

“It’s just sad and it’s stupid, really… I don’t know why somebody would put something like that on paper,” Shelby Hixson of Hamlin said.

“That’s not nice. I support the gays, and I’m not racist at all,” Hamlin resident Melissa Rogers said.

But Leroy Ramey, also of Hamlin, said he approved of the racist rant.

“I don’t have to read it all, I already agree with that,” he told a WCHS reporter. “Get rid of ’em.”

Downtown Hamlin, West Virginia, with Lincoln Journal office in foreground. (Photo: Tim Kiser)

Downtown Hamlin, West Virginia, with Lincoln Journal office in foreground. (Photo: Tim Kiser)

Janet Dooley, interim dean of the journalism school at Marshall University in Huntington, told WCHS that the Lincoln Journal crossed a line by publishing the commentary, which she says goes beyond offensive and into the realm of hate speech.

“If you look at hate speech, it does hit several of the markers of hate speech,” Dooley said. “It is not only offensive, but it goes beyond that to threaten certain groups of people.”

Journal managing editor Sean O’Donoghue defended the paper’s decision to print the commentary.

“We felt it was the right call to publish it, given the ongoing story we covered over the past three weeks,” O’Donoghue told WCHS, referring to Kelli Burns’ firing. The editor agreed that the message was hateful.

“The comments are very, very hateful and, as a Roman Catholic, I’m very offended,” he said.

Opinions such as those expressed in the reader’s message are not uncommon in many parts of the United States, and public figures regularly make bigoted statements that have made national, even international, headlines.

Last May, Kansas pastor Curtis Knapp delivered an hour-long sermon titled “The Curse of Homosexuality” in which he called on the US government to kill gays in accordance with the teachings of the Bible.

Earlier that month, North Carolina pastor Charles L. Worley expressed similar sentiments, urging authorities to imprison gays and lesbians in concentration camps until they all die off.

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2 Comments

  1. Capt_dommMarch 23, 2013 at 12:10 pmReply

    I wonder why people behave like this toward other races? Maybe stories like the one in Georgia of the two black teens killing a 13 month old baby have something to do with it. As much as I really don’t dislike anyone it is hard to read about that baby and not feel some sort of angst toward other races. A little piece of the story if you haven’t heard of it yet.

    he mother of a 13-month-old boy who was fatally shot in his stroller during a botched robbery Thursday said one the of suspects threatened to kill her baby moments before the boy was fatally shot.
    “He asked me for money and I said I didn’t have it,” Sherry West, the boy’s mom, told The Associated Press Friday from her apartment, which was scattered with her son’s toys and movies. “When you have a baby, you spend all your money on babies. They’re expensive. And he kept asking and I just said `I don’t have it.’ And he said, `Do you want me to kill your baby?’ And I said, `No, don’t kill my baby!”‘

    One of the teens allegedly fired four shots, grazing West’s ear and striking her in the leg, before he walked around to the stroller and shot the baby in the face.

  2. baneMarch 29, 2013 at 8:30 amReply

    So, what your saying Capt Domm is that you should hold an entire group of people responsible for the actions of a few? Just the other day 3 white men were arrested for trying to shop lift to support a drug habit. So does that mean all whites are on drugs and will steal? Also just ignore the fact that white people are in jails too. Because if we use your logic every person is an ambassador for their ‘race’. Right? What about minority lawyers, doctors, etc. Oh wait they’re all affirmative action people. Sorry man ,i could poke holes in your logic all day. Believe it or not white people commit crime too. Oh yeah I am a white guy.

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