Well, they responded to the “call to the arms.” The Obama supporters, that is.
Numerous Sarasotans began an email and telephone campaign last week, intended to persuade their friends and associates to discontinue supporting Observer advertisers and persuade the advertisers to discontinue advertising in the Observer newspapers and websites.
The accompanying box contains copies of some of those emails. They’re exercising their right, as we did, to free speech.
Meantime, letters to the editor continue to come in, responding not only to the July 19 “The anti-American president” editorial but also to the “anti-Observer” letters in the July 26 edition. The tone of the majority of the letters this week shifted — in support of the newspaper’s opinion and critical of the “anti-Observer” letter writers.
Emotions are high. Understandably. Politics often is personal and passionate.
We know, too, we sometimes trigger fury in people with our opinions and positions. Not at all understandable, however, is the overt effort to hurt businesses — virtually all locally owned, small businesses — that had nothing to do with or any control over the Observer editorial pages.
One of our long-time advertisers told us he received close to a dozen emails urging him to quit advertising in the Observer. He received telephone calls from long-time customers, telling him they would no longer use his services if he continued advertising in our media. Many other advertisers have received and are receiving similar urgings and threats.
There is no justification for punishing these businesses and business owners — all innocent bystanders. Such retribution is similar to international embargoes and sanctions. While righteous politicians believe they are inflicting pain on rogue governments, their boycotts hurt more than the politicians; they inflict unjustified pain on that nation’s innocent citizens. Likewise with boycotting businesses that advertise in the Observers. Don’t punish them. They’re innocent.
For that matter, don’t we all purchase products and services from businesses with which we disagree? General Electric receives corporate welfare; you probably buy GE light bulbs or appliances. BP was responsible for Deepwater Horizon; BP service stations are still thriving. Koch Industries makes widely sold toilet paper. Conservatives watch NBC to see the Olympics, regardless of its political biases.
This is the American way. Buyers and sellers choose to engage in peaceful, voluntary transactions that benefit each other — typically regardless of philosophical or political leanings. They do it to satisfy wants and needs and for perceived and attained value.
Likewise, everyone has the freedom not to engage in trade with a business. If you want to hurt us, sure, urge our advertisers to pull out. Everyone has the right to do that. The irony here is the people advocating to punish the Observer for its point of view are those who speak up for civil liberties and diversity and against discrimination, those who tell us they believe in tolerance. — MW
THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE OBSERVER
Here is a sampling of the some emails the individuals named below began circulating last week to Observer advertisers:
To: Observer Group Advertisers
Re: Latest Editorial in the Observer
The Observer Group has crossed the line. Their [sic] hateful, disrespectful and “out of context,” fear-mongering comments should not be tolerated by any reasonable person regardless of political party.
I personally will not patronize any supporters of this newspaper and intend to send a copy of the editorial in question to all of my SRQ contacts along with the list of advertisers.
Please consider removing your advertising from this publication.
• • •
From: Barbara Relles
Sent Friday, July 27, 2012 7:45 PM
To: Barb Relles
Subject: Despicable editorial in the Observer
The Observer Group published the despicable editorial below. I sent the following email to their subscribers. See attached spreadsheet.
Feel free to borrow my text or create your own if you are so inclined.
FYI: I sent the following letter to all of the email addresses of advertisers included in the attached list. They are listed below to make it easier for any of you who wish to do the same.
The Banyan Theater has already emailed back that they have canceled their advertising.
• • •
I am so enraged by the despicable distortion of truths and invectives against the president in the recent Observer editorial that I will not only never read that paper again, I will not support any businesses that support that paper.
It is one thing to disagree with the stand the president takes on an issue, but to call him un-American because he believes that we all stand on the backs of others, including sometimes the government, is really going too far.
I just wanted you to know what this real American feels about the un-American scare tactics used in the editorial.
I am also going to spread the word about this. I have wonderful friends on Longboat Key who I am sure will be appalled by this editorial.
I am tired of people just saying anything, true or not, to castigate the president. Is it because he is smart? Is it because he is African American? Is it because he cares about the middle class and the poor?
We should be so proud of having him as our president. And he has done more to mend relationships around the world than we have seen in a long time. It is amazing how the rest of the world admires him. I hear it in my travels all the time.
• • •
I urge you to cease any advertisement with the Observer Group because of the outrageously false editorial about President Obama.
Fanaticism of the kind displayed by the Observer Group deserves no support in the United States. It is unfortunate when a single individual has control of a media source where no journalistic sense of truth is practiced.
Joseph W. Boston
• • •
Dear Sponsor of “The Observer”:
Regardless of political leanings, it was with great distress that I read the editorial published in last week’s Observer. Instead of an argument based on fact and persuasion, this inflammatory and outrageous editorial was based on fear and hate.
Calling a sitting president of the United States “anti-American” was dangerous and embarrassing.
Yes, we have the right of free speech. But newspapers also have a responsibility to their readers. This article crossed the line of civility and responsible journalism.
Worst, the writer closed with a request for “a call to arms.” That is just appalling. Have we reverted to a society where we lynch people with whom we disagree? Is there no sense of responsibility to the country or the community?
Especially on the heels of the Colorado tragedy, which reminds us all the consequences of fostering this type of thinking — and making it acceptable to kill thine enemy.
Regardless of whether or not you support President Obama’s policies, if you respect for the United States of America and a rule of law and order, I ask you to re-consider your support of the Observer.
President, Perfect Pitch Consulting
• • •
From: Donna Cubit-Swoyer
Sent: Thursday, July 26, 2012 8:36 AM
Subject: The Observer Newspaper Editorials
The July 19 issue of the Observer printed an egregious assignation-of-character editorial about President Obama being un-American. President Obama’s comments were taken out of context …
I urge you to reconsider your advertising support for a Newspaper that is so blatantly partisan and tells half truths that are misleading to its readership.