Monday, February 6, 2012

San Leandro Times Offers A Platform For Hate, Part II

Feb. 6, 2012 | The San Leandro Times, the hamlet's weekly free newspaper offered column space this week for a resident to convey vile homophobic statements and it's not the first time the paper has printed similar hate speech.

In a letter to the editor, Leo T. West of San Leandro opposed Mayor Stephen Cassidy's involvement a week earlier with a group of mayors pushing to legalize gay marriage. In the letter, West, an apparent supporter of Proposition 8, said, "The working class will always reject the degenerations of nature that threaten humanity."

Allowing such comments is nothing new for the managing editor of the paper, Jim Knowles. In 2010, he opened his opinion page to a similarly outrageous screed by another elderly San Leandran.

Dorothy Allen was given the platform to bash illegal immigrants. "As far as I am concerned, all the illegals of all kinds should be rounded up and escorted out of the country."

At the time, I asked various San Leandro council members about the Times publishing the statement. During a council meeting shortly after, members Joyce Starosciak and Ursula Reed did not condemn the statement, but instead colored their argument on the basis of free speech--for the author.

West's horrible words and those of Allen are ridiculous examples of ignorance that only enhance old stereotypes of San Leandro as a backwater for rednecks and white supremacists over the spry multi-ethnic enclave its is quickly becoming.

The criticism lies not with the rants, but with the community newspaper printing their words. Citizens undeniably have a right to free speech, but they have absolutely no right to have their words printed in the newspaper.

It is in the newspapers civic and financial interest not to print these off-the-wall ideas--you would think. Why would a business like a free newspaper, whose profitiablilty is based upon advertisers, give a platform to hate likely to alienate a good chunk of the city?

The answer is not clear, but you can infer that by allowing Mr. West to call gays "degenerates" and Ms. Allen to round up minorities and send them elsewhere, it likely represents the belief of the paper's owner, Fred Zehnder.

Some in the city believe the editor is merely attempting to titillate its readership. It's not clear for what reason since it does not possess a working Web site and has shown no inclination to use its content to increase its base of reader, many of them who are also featured in the paper's obituary page.

Others subscribe to the idea, Knowles is just filling empty space with any letters sent to its offices. While that could be true, it also shows the incredibly shrinking importance of the paper within the discourse of San Leandro residents.

As earlier as two years ago, a local politician's words were uniquely amplified by appearing in the paper. Today with news sites like the East Bay Citizen and San Leandro Patch, the Times did nothing to change and now only interests residents who either do not have an Internet connection or oddly prefer their news 7-10 days after it happens.

Maybe it would be better if the San Leandro Times just died off. Like other media groups, its absence would hardly be noticed. Besides, a reporter from the San Leandro Times has not been seen a public meeting for nearly a year. If that's the kind of news you need, then wait for it tightly-rolled and on your driveway deeply-tucked under your Buick LaSabre.


  1. By Leo T. West of San Leandro
    "The working class will always reject the degenerations of nature that threaten humanity."

    --a similarly outrageous screed by another elderly San Leandran.--

    Dorthy Allen
    "As far as I am concerned, all the illegals of all kinds should be rounded up and escorted out of the country."

    Sorry, but the comment by Dorthy Allen, as stated, is well within the broad range of mainstream political discussion.
    In fact, the current Obama administration, until only recently, was gathering up people thought to be working illegally, with no other crime but being illegal, and was deporting them.

    If you exclude that comment of Dorthy Allen's as being that only of "rednecks and white supremacists" then indeed you are placing severe limitations on the public discourse.
    It is a perfectly reasonable stance to take and not altogether different than what we recently saw in the news, where Pacific Steel, in Emeryville fired 200 workers who were in the country illegally.

    Or was that action also unacceptable and the stuff of "rednecks and white supremacists"?
    Many of those laid off, without income, will probably have to leave. A indirect deportation.

    Your stance on the Pacific Steel firings?

    Or perhaps your stance on the City Of Oakland's hiring policy? Also "redneck"?

    Mr. West's comments are over the line, but after that, I have no idea how you seem to pick and choose what is acceptable for publication.

    Do I detect a simple dislike of the San Leandro Times, leading to distorted view?

  2. Do I detect that you have an unhealthy hatred for your common man? Yes, and like all who blame minorities for unrelated problems in society, your real problem is with yourself. See a psychiatrist and if you think the San Leandro Times is a credible publication, pick up the copy of People magazine sitting in your shrink's waiting room and enjoy.

  3. I think those who read this brief exchange can decide for themselves who needs to see a psychiatrist.

    You take my post and conclude I have a "unhealthy hatred" for the common man...

    And that I "like to blame minorities for unrelated problems in society"

    Wow, now I know who is causing all the problems, my neighbors, or about 75% of them. No, I don't live in San Leandro.

    But here is another thing which troubled me a bit.
    Perhaps its nothing, but here is what you said.
    "another elderly San Leandran"

    Not another San Leandran, but another "elderly" San Leandran. You know, those residents of San Leandro over age 65, or is 70 the cutoff age to qualify as a "elderly San Leandran"?

    We know what those folks over 70 are like...with their papers "on your driveway deeply-tucked under your Buick LaSabre. "

    San Leandran, elderly, Buick LaSabre drivers.
    Bingo, the clear unmistakable profile of a "white supremacist"
    ALL of them.

  4. A interesting guest on Bill Moyers show a few days ago on KQED


    Full Show: How Do Conservatives and Liberals See the World?
    February 3, 2012

    "Our country is more politically polarized than ever. Is it possible to agree to disagree and still move on to solve our massive problems? Or are the blind leading the blind — over the cliff?"

    "Bill and social psychologist Jonathan Haidt talk about the psychological underpinnings of our contentious culture, why we can’t trust our own opinions, and the demonizing of our adversaries."

    Worth a listen for anyone who lives in political climate where the extremes rule the political discourse. Can be expanded beyond the usual Democrat/Republican divide...to diverse splits on individual issues.

  5. Tavares doesn't even live in San Leandro.

  6. Tavares, like Brian Copeland moved from San Leandro, yet continue to bad mouth the place. Both ought to STFU. And please, one of you assholes take Tony Santos with you.

  7. Is Brian Copeland living in Novato?

  8. Wrong moron. I have lived in San Leandro since 1972 and never left, and...if you ever read or saw NOT A GENUINE BLACK MAN, you'd see that it ends up as the biggest love letter this city has ever received.

    Your characterization of me and my work shows that you have zero credibility on this issue.

    Brian Copeland

  9. By MW:

    To Whom It May Concern,

    I myself believe absolutely, totally, and unconditionally in free speech, and of course the First Amendment to the US Constitution, as long as the comments made are intelligent and respectful.

    And I also "know" that the comments made by people with opinions similar to mine are intelligent, and therefore should be published and disseminated as widely as possible.

    However I also "know" that people who have opinions considerably different than mine are "extremely stupid" and therefore their opinions should not be published, and in fact we should also get restraining orders forcing them to shut up and be silenced, since by doing so we are not laughing at and spitting on the First Amendment, but instead merely "improving" society and the environment.

    Very truly yours,

    Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Spiro Agnew, and J. Edgar Hoover, etc.

  10. You obviously have NO idea what you're talking about. If you did, you'd know that I have NEVER left San Leandro. I continue to live in town as I have for the last 40 years.

    Brian Copeland