CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBSDC/AP) — A Charlottesville weekly newspaper apologized Tuesday for a profane, racist rant that appeared in its publication.
The mea culpa came a day after dozens of people protested outside C-VILLE Weekly’s offices. Editor Giles Morris also said the paper had decided to alter its policy for The Rant, a section of the newspaper that publishes anonymous voicemail messages, to make it clear that it would not publish “racist, sexist or otherwise hate-inspired language.”
Monday’s protest was prompted by a comment that appeared in last week’s newspaper that used profanities and accused local black residents of asking for free food at restaurants.
“To all you black [expletive deleted] running up here in the Charlottesville restaurants looking for free food, we wouldn’t be known as a restaurant, we’d be known as the food bank,” the comment read, per a local television station. “So, from now on when you bring your black [expletive deleted] into the restaurants in Charlottesville and want free food, carry your [expletive deleted] on over to the food bank. Thank you.”
“As a newspaper, we take the right to free speech very seriously, but as a voice for our community, we also understand the responsibility we have to our readers to publish a paper aimed at fostering a positive dialogue on important issues,” Morris said in an email. “Also, we want our paper to be recognized for its editorial voice and news priorities, the content we make ourselves, and not be defined by the words of an anonymous racist phone caller.”
About 40 people protested and held signs, including one that read “Hate speech isn’t free speech” outside the newspaper.
Jeff Winder, who helped organize the event, said an apology isn’t enough. He and others want the newspaper to discontinue the anonymous comment section.
“People should not be allowed to hide behind The Rant,” protester Deirdre Gilmore told WCAV-TV. “If you feel a certain type of way, you need to show your face. It’s dangerous because it gives people the platform for hatred.”
Morris stood behind the value of the anonymous section.
“Sometimes it shows you the ugly side of the community,” Morris said. “That’s not the worst thing for people to be aware of.”
In his published apology, Morris said he regretted the error. It’s the paper’s policy to edit submissions that contain hate or libelous speech, he said.
“Giving voice to racist sentiments is not consistent with the mission of this paper or the aim of The Rant,” the apology read.
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