Over the past decade I've seen so many stupid, silly, off-the-wall letters published in Mountain Xpress that I've come to think of Letters as a slight variation of the “News of the Weird” section. But nothing — nothing — has ever come close to the lead-off Oct. 3 letter, “Et Tu, Xpress?”
The writer, objecting to an Obama-bashing ad being published in the paper, threatened to stop (1) reading the paper, or (2) patronizing Xpress advertisers because of the sellout to "fundamentalist, propagandized, rightist extremists." Really?
So, squelching free speech is now part of the liberal agenda? Determining what is objectionable to a majority or subset of the population becomes the standard of publishing in a free press? Asheville may very well be an enlightened enclave of liberalism in the rising red sea of the South — an artsy, tattooed, gender-bending, fantasy island attached to the North Carolina mainland. But we are not only tolerated but embraced. The cover of the issue in which this bizarre letter demanding suspension of the Bill of Rights in order to safeguard the writer's liberal sensitivities appeared is proof enough. Under the head "Feeling Queer?” the issue honored the LGBTQ pride events in town.
Wonder how that plays in some neighboring towns and the backcountry? And yet those "propagandized rightist extremists" don't demand we withdraw either objectionable ads or editorial material.
When I saw that same ad, I felt proud that the dominant liberal medium in town would make room for an alternative voice. And, anyone knowing Jeff Fobes would know his decision was based on principle, not profit.
During my brief tenure at Mountain Xpress a few years ago, the national independent weekly newspaper association arranged to have a series of tobacco company ads placed in participating papers. Mountain Xpress was invited to run cigarette ads.
At stake were thousands of much-needed dollars. After long discussion — including issues of free speech and public health — Jeff turned down the contract. The most compelling reason, I believe, was the target of those ads. Exposure of cigarette advertising to kids and young adults reading Xpress might encourage the development of a deadly habit.
Running an ad promoting anti-Obama propaganda is not likely to corrupt the very young … although it might provoke a juvenile response.
— Zhenya Senyak