An ABC-affiliated TV station in Salt Lake City refused to air an anti-war ad featuring Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq, because, according to the station, the ad was “inappropriate commercial advertisement for Salt Lake City.”
“I love my country,” Sheehan says in the ad, directed at the president who won’t meet her face to face. “But how many more of our loved ones need to die in this senseless war? I know you can’t bring Casey back. But it’s time to admit mistakes and bring our troops home now.”
This sort of thing is much too strong and true for the corporate American media, most of which has done more cheerleading for Bush’s war than reporting on it. A few days ago, we saw a CBS reporter putting words in the mouths of a couple who’d lost a son in Iraq. When they expressed reservations about George’s great adventure, the journalist felt it necessary to rephrase their remarks: “You’re not saying ‘Come home.’ You’re saying ‘Do the job or come home.’ ”
In fact, it sounded very much like they were saying “Come home,” as much as we could hear them under the reporter’s barking. At one point, the father said clearly “Isn’t it time to say enough is enough?” The TV guy took it on himself to sum up the conversation — appropriately, we suppose, since he’d done most of the talking — by declaring that the parents knew their son had not died in vain. The news hound didn’t seek confirmation from his subjects.
Maybe it was for their own good. Had they been allowed to say without interruption or editing that American troops should leave Iraq now, they would have been subject to the same savage attacks that Cindy Sheehan is enduring. We learned in the presidential campaign last year that the chicken hawks of the punditry and the Bush administration hate real war heroes. Now we know they hate the mothers of war heroes too.
While the Salt Lake media were censoring Cindy Sheehan, Bush arrived in town for a speech, during which he evoked 9-11 five times in 30 minutes, as if Iraq had anything to do with that attack. It didn’t, any more than it possessed weapons of mass destruction. Earlier this year, when a prince of Saudi Arabia paid a call on Bush, the president did not mention 9-11, though most of the 9-11 terrorists were Saudis. Nor did he talk about “extending democracy,” the fifth or sixth reason he’s given for invading Iraq, though democracy is conspicuously absent from the Kingdom too. Instead, a newspaper photograph showed Bush and the prince holding hands. He won’t talk to American mothers who’ve lost their sons, but he’ll hold hands with Saudi royalty. Mothers have no oil reserves.
Noel Oman of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported on plans underway at the Arkansas freeway department to raise the license fee for electric cars to what a gas-powered car pays in fuel taxes, maybe $180 a year. Fair? They say yes; I'm not so sure.
We're sad to report that Doug Smith has decided to retire. Though he's been listed as an associate editor on our masthead for the last 22 years, he has in fact been the conscience of the Arkansas Times. He has written all but a handful of our unsigned editorials since we introduced an opinion page in 1992.
Last week, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel became the first elected statewide official to express support for same-sex marriage. His announcement came days before Circuit Judge Chris Piazza is expected to rule on a challenge to the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Soon after, a federal challenge of the law is expected to move forward. McDaniel has pledged to "zealously" defend the Arkansas Constitution but said he wanted the public to know where he stood.
Remarking as we were on the dreariness of this year's election campaigns, we failed to pay sufficient tribute to the NRA, one of the most unsavory and, in its predictability, dullest of the biennial participants in the passing political parade.