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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Morning Call Allows Hate Speech, But Stifles Criticism

If you belong to the local KKK, I'm sure you know all about The Morning Call Readers' Forum. Filters may prevent even the mildest of profanities, but people can and do make outrageous remarks about anyone who is different, even lefties.

Do you honestly think there's a difference between "I hate niggers" and "I hate n****rs"? Does it really matter that words like "shit" or "bitch" are filtered when people can still refer to Allentown's minority population as "filthy mongrels"?

On the plus side, there's lots of good advice on where you can buy cheap Swastikas, get skinhead haircuts and have your sheets cleaned and pressed.

Minorities, homosexuals and Jews have been easy targets for centuries, so this is really nothing new for them. But it's still hypocritical when the paper sponsoring that venom piously beats its chest and proclaims it stands for "[t]olerance and respect for all persons, irrespective of differences of race, religion or culture. When people disagree about issues, we will advocate for and provide opportunities for a civil discourse that seeks common ground and constructive solutions."

In reality, The Morning Call stands for the Almighty Dollar. All hail!

The paper has yet to publicly acknowledge its readers forum is even a problem, let alone promise to do anything to stop the hate.

Here's what kills me.

The KKK can congregate all over the readers' forum, so long as they don't curse. But the paper has habitually blocked comments from Bill Villa, a Morning Call critic, to the forum or on Morning Call blogs.

Who the hell is Bill Villa? He's a nobody, a schlep like you and me. Not too long ago, his daughter was taken away from him by a drunk driver. Is he angry? Yep. Bitter? You bet. But he's also smart and thinks there has been an injustice. Maybe he's wrong. Maybe he's right.

Until recently, columnist Bill White has denied Villa's comments are deleted. "I have never deleted any comment by Bill Villa. If he tried to post a comment and it didn't go through, it's because of the same occasional glitch that has blocked me from posting comments on my own blog on several occasions, always from home." Yet just last week, Villa was again blocked from commenting on a Bill White blog. This time, there was a different explanation. "Mr. Villa is engaged in a dispute with our editors, and I'm not going to inject myself into it or make this a forum to debate it."

So the local paper apparently is blocking comments from the father of a drunk driving victim while enabling the Aryan Nation. I have one question - are these people out of their frickin' minds?

Villa's blocked comment is posted in its entirety at AJ's Weblog.


Bill Villa said...

Dear Morning Call Editorial Board:

My name is Bill Villa.

I'm 54 years old, a lifelong resident of Allentown, and a 30+ year subscriber to The Morning Call.

I have reason to believe Lehigh County District Attorney James B. Martin is soft on select/connected drunk drivers who kill people.

Even more troubling, I have reason to believe The Morning Call news department facilitates Mr. Martin going easy on select/connected homicidal drunk drivers by way of the information it chooses to include--and not include--in its coverage of these criminal cases.

My only daughter Sheena was killed by a drunk driver on her 25th birthday, March 24, 2006.

Sheena's convicted killer is the son of a prominent Allentown attorney whose law firm has represented The Morning Call for many years.

Numerous members of this law firm have been generous and regular contributors to the Committee to Elect Jim Martin, according to public records at Lehigh County Voter Registration.

During the criminal proceedings against Sheena's killer, I was disappointed and distressed by what I perceived to be a purposefully unenthusiastic prosecution by DA Jim Martin and news coverage by The Morning Call that was slanted in favor of the criminal defendant and his family -- especially toward the conclusion of the criminal proceedings.

I respectfully request a meeting with The Morning Call Editorial Board to discuss my concerns regarding the newspaper's coverage of my daughter Sheena's case.

I want to be heard by you on this topic.

And The Morning Call Editorial Board's "welcome mat always is out for those who want to be heard." -mcall.com

Additionally, I would like to discuss The Morning Call's coverage of the 2003 vehicular crash death of _______ ________ and the soft outcome for criminal defendant _______ ______.

And finally, I would like to discuss the recent _____ _______ DUI homicide case, including ...

* the surprisingly soft outcome for a criminal defendant who had received a 2nd DUI after having committed vehicular homicide while DUI

* the relationship between DA Jim Martin and the criminal defendant's grandfather who was an invited guest at Mr. Martin's January 2008 swearing-in ceremony

* the "excellent questions that deserve to be answered" (your own Investigations Editor Tim Darragh's words) that I have raised regarding the _____ _______ DUI homicide case

Quoting from your web site ...

"... the [Morning Call Editorial] board intends to be as open with readers as possible. It meets regularly -- a few times every week -- with people and groups about topics of public interest. The Lehigh Valley area is blessed to have public-spirited citizens who recognize that the newspaper is a corporate citizen that strives to be engaged in the debate on such issues, and that tries to offer leadership. The welcome mat always is out for those who want to be heard." -www.mcall.com

This is my 131st request for a "Welcome Mat" meeting with The Morning Call Editorial Board.

I request that you honor it, and my daughter Sheena, by booking a meeting with me.

I look forward to hearing from you and scheduling a date and time to meet with the 6-member Morning Call Editorial Board.

Sheena's Dad
Bill Villa

Chris Miller said...

This should come as no surprise. The Morning Call has been an intolerant rag newspaper for years. They will allow the garbage to be spewed while anyone who is critical of them is denied access to their letters page and now their blogs. As for Bill White, I always viewd him as a bit of a bum.

Bernie O'Hare said...

They've allowed me to be critical w/o cutting me off, but can't take what Villa says for some reason.

Their readers' forum is inconsistent w/ their own "philosophy".

Bill Villa said...

"... for some reason."

The Reason is: TMC will not lay a glove on DA Jim Martin regardless of what Martin does or doesn't do. I've tested this hypothesis and reported on it in prior blog postings (e.g., how TMC "covered" for Martin when he was glaringly absent from a pivotal Lehigh County Commissioners meeting on April 23 but wrote their story in a way that readers would get the impression Martin was present at the meeting) and I am convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that it is true. Go through TMC archives, go all the way back to when Jim Martin was handed the DA's job in 1997 when Bob Steinberg vacated the position to become a judge, and if you can find anything even remotely critical or questioning or scrutinizing of Jim Martin, I'll give you $100.00. Expose the reason WHY The Morning Call gives Jim Martin a Perpetual Free Pass (i.e., who at the "newspaper" is benefiting from this "Martin is off limits" policy) and I believe there's a Pulitzer Prize in it for you. You'll be competing with me for it however so you should get busy on this ASAP.

A.J.C. said...

"The paper has yet to publicly acknowledge its readers forum is even a problem."

This is true, sort of...

In TMC's recap of the "No Place For Hate" event, which came two days AFTER the event took place, it was noted that the people present were unhappy with TMC and their forums. (That article has yet been sent to the archives where it will soon be turned to ash.)

If you remember, Bernie, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski even expressed his disgust with a TMC article (and the hate involved) while giving his speech at the end of the event, but they'll never report that.

And, according to Alfonso who posted a comment to my blog about the event, TMC's reporter in attendance wouldn't even give her opinion on anything.

So basically, TMC has admitted that the people are aware of the hatred housed and encouraged by TMC, but fail to admit they recognize it themselves.

However, they know...

Bernie O'Hare said...

True, one news account does mention it. But the MC has never, to my knowledge, written a story specifically about the hate speech or spelled out its policy. Whatever it is, it is inconsistent with its own editorial philosophy of tolerance.

Bill Villa said...

"April 23"

I meant to say April 9 ...