Daily Planet cartoon
An anti-abortionist kills Dr. George Tiller in Wichita. A white supremacist murders a the security guard at the Holocaust Museum. Three people associated with the Minutemen execute two members of a family of undocumented Latinos, hoping to steal drugs, sell them, and keep the proceeds. Meanwhile sales of guns and ammunition have continued at a fever pitch since President Obama was elected. Meanwhile, though the government keeps what seems to be an ever-expanding and nonsensical "terrorist watch list," 963 people on that list turned up trying to buy guns between 2004 and February 2009 -- and 865 were allowed to make the purchases, according to a Government Accountability Office study.
In such a climate of rising politically inspired violence, instances of bullying that aim to suppress speech need to be taken especially seriously. Thanks to my friend Deeg writing in the latest issue of UltraViolet, I became aware of a local campaign to deter advertisers who use a local alternative paper. This attack on a little community paper is particularly distressing as we watch the big papers get thinner and more vapid. We need these kinds of alternative media -- they help us know what is going on in our communities.
The Berkeley Daily Planet, counter-intutively published weekly, covers very local developments; the current issue headlines a planning commission meeting, a School Board controversy about a community governance council, and the opening of a new animal shelter.
It also publishes op-eds and editorials. Berkeley is a very opinionated community. If the writer is local and the op-ed isn't obviously part of an astroturf campaign, the Daily Planet usually prints it, according an open letter from the editors.
For many years one of the subjects of contention within the community has been the injustice done by Israel to Palestinians. As long ago as 1984, its voters were faced with a ballot measure urging the U.S. to stop funding Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine (that one got buried in controversy and campaign cash.) The horrors of last winter's Israeli assault on Gaza brought out many fierce denunciations of Israel. The editors concede they publish very few commentaries lauding Israeli actions -- they say they don't get those. Instead they get a chorus of accusations of bad faith, bias, and "anti-Semitism."
Some supporters of Israeli actions are now trying to kill off the paper.
This article is worth reading in its entirety -- I'd call it journalism. The Daily Planet's choice to expose the bullies has also elicited some interesting reader response, such as this:
He seems to have been reading most of the mainstream media.
We all lose when bullying works. Best wishes to the Planet and its readers.