Newspaper

Newspapers flow off The Cullman Times press.

On Valentine’s Day in Linden, Alabama, Goodloe Sutton, editor and publisher of The Democrat-Reporter, penned an editorial that began: “Time for the Ku Klux Klan to night ride again.”

There was no Valentine’s love in Sutton’s message. Nor was it a hoax or a bad joke.

The author was serious, urging forward the most feared and despised hate organization in the United States to rise up against “Democrats in the Republican Party” who are plotting to raise taxes in Alabama. He also suggested the Klan should raid “gated communities” where they live.

Sutton also wrote the Klan would be useful in “cleaning up D.C.”

In an interview with the Montgomery Advertiser, he was asked to elaborate. At that point, Sutton suggested lynching. “We’ll get the hemp ropes out, loop them over a tall limb and hang all of them,” Sutton said.

Racism has been around a long time. This brand of hatred coming from Sutton is especially troubling in Alabama, where lynchings, discrimination and suppression were the norm in the post-Civil War years that promoted white supremacy and separation.

For Alabama and the nation, Sutton is an embarrassment who unfortunately carries the power of the pen inherited from his family. His offensive writings over the years at this weekly newspaper extend from race to gender, and back again.

On Tuesday, the Alabama Press Association, which this newspaper is a member, issued the following state- ment. “The Alabama Press Association Board of Directors voted today to cen-sure Goodloe Sutton and suspend the association of The Democrat-Reporter.” The APA’s statement echoed action by Auburn University and the University of Southern Mississippi, each rescinding previous honors for Sutton.

If you want to know what the years of separation and discrimination look like, just digest one of Sutton’s weekly editorials.

Operating a newspaper carries responsibilities that are devoted to the U.S. Constitution. The First Amendment tops the list with guarantees of a free press and free speech. But as the old argument applies, yelling “fire” in a crowded room and causing a dangerous stampede is irresponsible and does not merit free speech, although, by law, Sutton has a right to publish his opinion.

Aside from outright racist views, Sutton’s latest epistle is flawed for two clear reason: he promotes the revival of a hate group that has a documented past of murder and intimidation, and the Klan, for whatever purpose he finds in the organization, has a history of suppressing free speech and the liberties of American society because of its hate toward anyone who is not white and/or practicing the religion it prefers.

Sutton is a caricature of the past, embracing white supremacy, insulting women and generally wanting to revive something that brought death and fear to society in its day.

Some readers of the newspaper have reported that Sutton’s views have long been troubling for many in the community, but from what we can tell, this one tops the list.

Sutton is truly an unsavory relic of the past. His views belong under a lonely rock where no one will have to read them again.

He has violated the principles of American life and the responsibility of operating a newspaper. Sutton’s views are disgraceful to the people of Alabama, the nation and those of us who believe journalism matters.

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