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A Chilling Effect


Check out this this press release:


Muslim advocacy group thanks newspaper for quick action

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 1/2/03) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations
(CAIR) said tonight that a Florida journalist who made disparaging remarks
about Arabs and Muslims in an e-mail message has been suspended without pay
for one week.

In a letter of apology to the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic
Relations (CAIR), Tallahassee Democrat Executive Editor John W. Miller wrote:

“On behalf of the Tallahassee Democrat, I apologize to all of our readers,
and most especially, to members of the Islamic faith everywhere, for the
intemperate e-mail comments of political writer/columnist Bill Cotterell.
They absolutely do not represent the views and sensitivities of this
newspaper. Worse, they run counter to many of the values we hold dearest,
among them tolerance, diversity and inclusiveness.

“Bill spoke, via company e-mail, in anger and frustration to a reader.
Shortly after he sent the message, he realized his mistake, and he has
since apologized to all of his colleagues for the hurt and embarrassment he
knows he caused.

“‘I was wrong and I am sorry,’ he said in an unsolicited statement to his
editors. ‘My remarks were grossly inappropriate and do not reflect my views
toward Muslim people.

“‘It would be bad enough if my comments reflected only on my own lack of
judgment, but I realize that I have embarrassed the newspaper,’ Cotterell said.

“He said that he should have stopped to consider that people would believe
he spoke for the Democrat ‘rather than just for myself in an emotional and
ill-considered moment.’

“Bill has been a valued and respected employee of the Democrat for almost
20 years. But his actions – even though they were in a private
communication – cannot go unpunished. As of Friday, he is being suspended
without pay for a week.”

“We thank the Tallahassee Democrat for its swift action in response to this
troubling issue. The newspaper’s forthright apology goes a long way toward
re-establishing its journalistic credibility with the Muslim and
Arab-American communities in Florida,” said CAIR Board Chairman Omar Ahmad.
Ahmad added that he hoped the Muslims in that state could now enter into a
more constructive and reciprocal dialogue with the newspaper’s editorial board.

“We will continue our strong support for the First Amendment right to
freedom of speech. But we also believe that with freedom, comes
responsibility,” said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. Awad also thanked
all those who contacted the newspaper to express their concerns about
Cotterell’s remarks. “We encourage people of conscience to stand up for
what is right and not to be discouraged by the rising tide of Anti-Muslim
bigotry in our nation,” said Awad.

In an e-mail to a concerned Muslim, Cotterell had written: “Except for
Jordan and Egypt, no Arab nation has a peace treaty with Israel. They’ve
had 54 years to get over it. They choose not to. OK, they can squat around
the camel-dung fire and grumble about it, or they can put their bottoms in
the air five times a day and pray for deliverance; that’s their
business. And I don’t give a damn if Israel kills a few in collateral damage
while defending itself. So be it.”

In December, CAIR called for an apology from the Tallahassee Democrat for a
Doug Marlette syndicated editorial cartoon, headlined “What Would Mohammed
Drive?” showing a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad driving a nuclear
bomb-laden truck similar to that used by Timothy McVeigh in the 1995
Oklahoma City bombing. Thousands of concerned Muslims contacted the
newspaper to complain about the cartoon. SEE:

“But his actions — even though they were in a private communication — cannot go unpunished”?!?! Good grief! Personally, I don’t see what’s so outrageous about the journalist’s words that they required him to be suspended for a week. Is that what 20 years of service gets you from p.c. newsroom employers? I can see how it would make the CAIR faithful mad, but saying just about anything negative about Islam makes them mad. Honestly, these grievance-industry hotheads could hang a jar of fireflies from the end of a stick and chase your average oh-so-sensitive news editor from here to Timbuktu.


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