February 27th, 2005

It’s been a while since I’ve indulged in a really good rant, but earlier in the week I was really, really torqued, so I’m going to vent here. Our town (and by this I mean our actual mini-city, not St. Louis itself) in conjunction with another nearby town, delivers us a weekly newspaper, free of charge. It’s a cute little thing, filled with letters to the editors, upcoming city council meetings, notices on city wide ordinanaces, and interviews with local high schoolers. It’s very Mayberry, I quite enjoy it. This week when I went to pick up the paper from our driveway, there was a tightly rolled, rubberbanded paper next to it. I picked it up and opened it, only to be assaulted by a noxious, racist screed. I’m not going to detail the group, or link the websites provided, or anything of that nature because the less publicity they get the better, but the piece was filled with usual resentment-mongering diatribes against Jews, segregation and so forth, containing “articles” with such lead lines as “Since my release from prison in 2002…” and “Euro Americans are forced to live with other ethnic groups…” and an awful, awful “Kid’s Corner” that was such an instrument of hate-breeding that it made me shudder and for once be grateful that my child cannot yet read.

The reasons this torques me so intensely are three-fold. One is tangentially related, and has more to do with social attitudes at large than this paper specifically. The commonly held (and expressed) notion is that the South is the bastion of racism. I’m not going to dispute any allegations that racism is alive and well in the South. In fact, I’ve talked here on the blog about instances of racism so profound I had difficulty accepting they occurred in my neighborhood. On the other hand, in my decade or so living in the South, never have I had flung upon my doorstep such a despicable platform of hate, never was it assumed that I would want or accept such a thing, and never was the widespread, blanket dissemination of such a screed condoned by anyone that I knew. So you can imagine that I’m a little tired about hearing all about the racist South, when it’s not until I move away that something like this happens to me. Look to your own beam, Midwest, before nattering on about the South’s mote.

Secondly, and more to the point, I really resent the fouling of my community by such garbage. I would not be surprised if this delivery campaign had been orchestrated by people who don’t live here, who have never lived here, and who don’t intend to live here. At least, one can hope that such is the case, and that these peddlers of inflammatory dissension are not my neighbors. I am a librarian, so it follows that I’m a defender of people’s first amendment rights to say whatever they please no matter how foul or nonsensical such utterances may be. However, though I would not dream of denying anyone their mouthpiece, I am still really angered that someone thinks spreading this vile propaganda was worth the trees and ink. It still bothers me that people use their opportunities to speak freely no better than to spew lies and bigotry. And it really bothers me when their spew ends up on the driveway of my home. I expect better of free-thinking citizens in the twenty-first century. I hate to see my confidence in people’s ability to be rational and civil dispelled.

Lastly, it makes me really angry that these people chose the exact same day and time of our newspaper delivery to deliver their own paper and that they couched it in the language of news. I know that it can’t be helped, really, there’s nothing the paper can do to keep people from piling stuff next to it, but it gave the real paper a stain by association. The two were lying side by side, a desperate attempt at legitimacy on the part of the racists but an inevitable, unavoidable link between the two created by everyone subsequently picking them up together. Intentional, I’m sure, as the outrageous claims pronounced in the distasteful racist piece could only benefit by the appearance of endorsement from the real local newspaper. The reason this is a rant, however, and not a meditated piece on the ills of racism is because I know that there’s nothing at all that can be done (and possibly nothing that should be done) to stop this. It makes me unreasoningly angry that it happens and I just can’t help but fume about the whole thing, even though its likely just the price I pay for living in a land of tolerance.


iTunes says I was listening to Monday Night from the album EP2 by Zero 7 when I posted this. I have it rated 4 stars.

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