A newspaper in West Virginia is defending its decision to publish a reader’s racist and homophobic comments, which called for “queers” to be put to death along with “n*ggers, spics, kikes and wops.”
The reader referenced a recent report about how the Lincoln County Board of Education had terminated lesbian teacher Kelli Burns from her job at Guyan Valley Middle School teacher after she accused board officials of forcing students to write complaints that she had tried to “turn them gay.”
“We were really glad to hear that School Board is getting rid of them queers,” the voice mail said. “The next thing is we need to get rid of all the n****rs, the spics, the kikes and the wops.”
“You know even them Catholics, they are wrong as baby eaters,” the reader continued. “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.”
Some West Virginians told WCHS-TV that the column was offensive.
“That’s not nice,” Hamlin resident Melissa Rogers insisted. “I support the gays, and I’m not racist at all.”
But other readers agreed with the bigoted opinion.
“I don’t have to read it all, I already agree with that,” Hamlin resident Leroy Ramey opined. “Get rid of them.”
Lincoln Journal managing editor Sean O’Donoghue, who is a Roman Catholic, agreed that the comments were offensive, but said that he had no regrets about publishing them.
“We felt it was the right call to publish it, given the ongoing story we covered over the past three weeks,” he expained.
Marshall University School of Journalism interim dean Janet Dooley, however, said that the paper had crossed a line by printing the anonymous remarks because they amounted to hate speech.
“If you look at hate speech, it does hit several of the markers of hate speech, that it is directed at a particular group of people,” Dooley told WCHS-TV. “It is not only offensive, but it goes beyond that to threaten certain groups of people.”
Watch this video from WCHS-TV, broadcast March 20, 2013.
Update (2:30 p.m. ET): A previous version of this report incorrectly identified Marshall University School of Journalism interim dean Janet Dooley.