Johnson County Graphic Newspaper: “Narrow Political Agenda”

The following comment was posted on the blog entry about the Johnson County Graphic, and their bigoted policy of excluding names of same sex partners in obituaries.  The facts presented in the comment were of such quality that I take liberty of using the entire text as a post here.  The writer was Steven.  (Thanks for the comments)

I am outraged by this news and will be calling the Johnson County Graphic myself tomorrow too. I have a few questions for them about this policy of theirs.

Does this “family-oriented” policy of theirs extend to all unmarried couples? Why do I have the distinct feeling that the Graphic would not exclude someone if they were listed as a fiancée? Why do I suspect that in this day and age where more and more of our nation’s Seniors are living in relationships where they are not married, but are together for companionship, that this paper would not exclude them either? More importantly, why would a newspaper of any quality whatsoever create a policy that only works to single out only one type of person–gay? According to the last census, in Johnson County there were roughly 22000 households, of which 366 were of the unspeakable sort. Why would you create a policy to attack less than 1.6% of the population. And then to implement such a hateful policy in someone’s mother’s obituary. My GOD the lack of humanity!!

It seems to me that this is a convenient way to make the “gay problem” go away–just exclude them from your paper when necessary and Voila!, problem solved.

The real problem is of course that this paper likely only implements this policy of theirs when it suits their own narrow political agenda. I am willing to bet that if they could get their hands on some photo of cross-dressers in a Pride Parade, or write of some Senator demeaning himself (and everyone who is gay in the process), that they would print that story. It is helpful in that sort of case, when one wants to demonize all gay people as being promiscuous or living some strange and unacceptable ‘lifestyle’, not to have any recognizable sign that there are thousands of gay couples all across America. In fact, my relationship, which can not as of yet be sanctified under law, has lasted longer than the average marriage in the country!

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Bigotry At The Johnson County Graphic, Clarksville, Arkansas (And What You Can Do)

The Johnson County Graphic,
203 East Cherry Street, Clarksville, Arkansas
Phone 1-(479)-754-2005 * FAX 1-(479)-754-2098

Bigotry comes in all shapes and sizes, but does it need to happen at the time of a parent’s death?  My story tells all we need to know about the state of small mindedness and hate in America today.  It is an ugly story.

My mother’s obituary was printed in full recently in five Wisconsin newspapers.  Since she had grown up in Ozone, Arkansas we felt that it would be proper for the local newspaper, The Johnson County Graphic, in nearby Clarksville, to also print it. 

However, when it was printed the newspaper staff made a decision to take my life-partners name out of the text.  My siblings had their spouses listed.  The paper even found the space to list all the grandchildren and their spouses.  But my family was omitted, not by accident, but due to outright bigotry. The fact that the newspaper went searching for the names of those grandchildren and their spouses from a longer version of the obituary that we had also submitted, only adds to the insult.

When I contacted the newspaper to better understand what happened I found that bigotry is alive and well even within what is supposed to be a more enlightened profession.  I was told that the Graphic is “a family owned newspaper” and the obituary editor makes the decision to include or exclude names.  When I pressed the paper in a polite fashion about this omission of my partner they told me they have a policy of printing only spouse’s names.  In other words, loving families that are not allowed to get married due to bigotry in this nation, are also not allowed to be even mentioned in obituaries in southern newspapers?

When I pointed out the fact that families in America come in all shapes and sizes there was really no response, except to repeat, “we are a family owned newspaper”.  It was obvious that the only rationale to this deplorable policy of The Johnson County Graphic was one of pure bigotry.  I don’t think Wanda Williams, the obituary editor at the newspaper, created this policy on her own.  This warped and outdated policy was hatched in the minds of those who own the paper, and have clearly never cerebrally stepped out of Johnson County, Arkansas.

I suggest that Ron Wylie, the General Manager of the newspaper, pick up the New York Times style manual, read it, and use it.  I have one on my desk at all times, and find that on page 254 the book states that partner “is a suitable term for an unmarried companion of the same sex or the opposite one”.  Even if the Johnson County Graphic doesn’t know what a style manual is they certainly should understand an act of humanity. Or in this case the lack of it.   THIS WAS AN OBITUARY AND THE JOHNSON COUNTY GRAPHIC USED IT TO PROMOTE BIGOTRY.  I suspect these same ‘fine genteel southern folk’ at the newspaper will be sitting proud and proper in a pew on Sunday morning.  But look how they live during the week.

They may be a family owned newspaper in Arkansas, but we are a loving family in Madison, Wisconsin.  To read in The Johnson County Graphic that my relationship is not worth the ink of publication is nasty and hurtful.  It is also symptomatic of the hate and bigotry that resides in America today.

Therefore, I post the following contact information for The Johnson County Graphic.  They need to hear from citizens about this offensive policy.  Put a note in the mail, write a letter to the editor of the paper, or give a quick call and let your voice be heard.  Bigotry is allowed only when we do nothing to stop it.

The Johnson County Graphic
203 East Cherry Street, Clarksville, Arkansas
Phone 1-(479)-754-2005 * FAX 1-(479)-754-2098

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