published Sunday, August 11th, 2013

Taylor: Dark clouds of hate had a silver lining

Jason Taylor

Hate is alive. It’s alive in our country. It’s alive in our state. And, it’s alive in our city.

This hate for our fellow man is alarming. This hate for our brothers and sisters is ugly. This hate for those around us is scary.

After last week, this hate is also inspiring. After 16 years in the newspaper industry, I’ve decided to write my first published column.

As many in our area (and now the country) know, last week the Times Free Press announced a key personnel change shortly after the president’s visit to Chattanooga. Immediately following that announcement, the story morphed. It was spun to include political motivations, conspiracy theories and worse. The story was shopped by others to local media, national media and social media. Commentators weighed in adding more and more theory and less and less fact.

As disappointing as that may seem, it never really bothered me. However, what I saw afterward not only bothered me, it scared me to my core.

Racism. Sexism. Religious discrimination. Paranoia. Prejudice. Rage.

Our editors, managers, customer service reps, reporters, and others began receiving calls and emails from all across the nation that were nothing less than vicious. Complete strangers took the story out of context and claimed it was this newspaper succumbing to President Barack Obama.

The ‘N’ word was screamed in dozens of emails and calls. “If you are not a [N] then you are an [N]-lover” one caller said.

The word “woman” was used as an insult over and over again. One bitter respondent went as far as to tell our female editor that she is an example of why the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote, should have never existed. Another told her this is why women shouldn’t be doing jobs meant for men. Scores of others referred to her with almost every imaginable derogatory, vulgar term known.

Obama was called a “rag-headed Muslim” or “Chicago thug gang banger” by many who felt compelled to target their rage against him towards us. Many times they included their contact information as if it was a badge of honor that accompanied the sentiments. Others hid behind the veil of anonymity with their sordid remarks.

Personally, I heard from more than one stranger this week that it was a shame my mother did not have an abortion. Dozens more thought I was born without parts of my male anatomy. Many told me how physically ugly I was. And the “F” word was used almost as freely as the “N” word in trying to describe my alleged personal support of Obama. More than one suggested my death would result from my misinterpreted pandering to political pressure.

I learned this week that hate knows no socio-economic boundaries. Investment bankers. Pastors. CEOs. Daycare workers. Nurses. Senior citizens. Teenagers. We heard their rage.

Hate also shows up where you least expect it. This week it followed Bible verses, sometimes even in the same sentence. It followed pictures of kids and grandkids. It even followed one of our employees right out of a potential rental property.

Hate also goes viral. In today’s world, information moves fast. Disgust with us came from over 30 states from people who alleged our support for Obama trumped our support for a free press. (Note: Anyone who has read the Free Press page over the past five years of the Obama administration would clearly see the weakness in this argument.)

Through all this hate, I did see something that inspired me. By returning hundreds of calls and emails personally, I saw the majority ask for forgiveness. I saw patience rewarded. I saw truth conquer fear and anger. I also renewed a pride in this newspaper’s staff to rise above. To continue to do our part to educate, enlighten and entertain. With that comes knowledge and understanding. And with knowledge and understanding comes peace. Peace conquers hate. And with peace comes joy.

Freedom of speech and of the press remains paramount, but learning to love one another remains essential for our city, our state and our country.

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hotdiggity said...

Thank you for this article and thanks for taking the time to reply to the calls and emails.

August 11, 2013 at 1:29 a.m.
lkeithlu said...

Somehow, I am not surprised. Disappointed, but not surprised.

August 11, 2013 at 6:14 a.m.

I have no doubt that many of these examples were authentically expressing the despicable views of the writers. However, some of them were penned by clever liberals sending up such missives to cast conservatives in the worst possible light. If you deny that such exist, you are naive. Clever conservatives have done the same thing in order to lampoon the views of the loony left.

August 11, 2013 at 8:45 a.m.
jjmez said...

re: "However, some of them were penned by clever liberals sending up such missives to cast conservatives in the worst possible light"

I seriously doubt it, wwwtw. Everything and then some Jason has written in his editorial, I've personally heard straight from the conservative horses mouth. Especially local conservative horses. YOU ROCK! Jason, for telling the truth, and exposing for all the world to see.

August 11, 2013 at 9:19 a.m.
LaughingBoy said...

When you allow Sohn to repeat liberal lies you should expect backlash. The Johnson story going national brought in the negative response, multiplied, but the local attitude has been just as heated on Sohn and Bennett.

August 11, 2013 at 9:21 a.m.
jjmez said...

LB, Johnson's firing went national because he and his supporters wanted it that way, believing they would gain support. Instead, from what I've been reading from other news sources around the nation on the matter, especially the ones he and his friends contacted originally, it's rapidly backfiring on Johnson, his minion supporters and placing local conservatives in an even more negative light.

August 11, 2013 at 9:30 a.m.
LaughingBoy said...

I don't disagree but the tfp should not act so surprised.

August 11, 2013 at 9:37 a.m.
lkeithlu said...

Clever conservatives have done the same thing in order to lampoon the views of the loony left.

Somehow it doesn't surprise me that conservatives have done this. It is highly dishonest. However, to claim that in this case liberals have done the same is also dishonest, especially given you have no evidence.

August 11, 2013 at 9:41 a.m.
jjmez said...

LaughingBoy said... I don't disagree but the tfp should not act so surprised.

TFP isn't acting so surprised. Drew and his gang are in major meltdown because things didn't go as they planned. Their plan was to turn the wrath of all conservatives across the country against TFP. They didn't get their wish, and they don't have a backup plan.

August 11, 2013 at 10:12 a.m.
Hunter_Bluff said...

No matter the motivation, hate should never be rewarded. Plenty of hate exists without our supporting it. I'm very proud of the TFP for responding personally. It took COURAGE and you changed some people for the better by doing so. Hate thrives in darkness and secrecy.

August 11, 2013 at 10:36 a.m.
yaffay said...

Thank you for your public stand against the forces of hate and prejudice, Mr. Taylor. It is shocking that so many people in this area see racism and inequality as acceptable. We should celebrate, instead of loathe and fear, the wonderful diversity of our country.

August 11, 2013 at 5:33 p.m.
TheCommander said...

Don't believe the sanctimonious, enlightened, above it all attitude displayed in this piece.

It is standard operating procedure: whenever government, a media outlet or some other organization comes under attack they always tell the horror stories of supposed death threats, harsh calls and e-mails. That is their way of turning the spotlight off their behavior. It is always rumor, and unsubstantiated. If it is true, then call in the TBI - don't blabber it in a column. Am I wrong?

Be careful about cheering on the use of these wicked "tools of the trade" - they can and will be used against you someday if you ever find yourself needing to really take a stand against something truly wrong. This is true whether you support Drew or not. It does not matter the political perspective you come from.

August 14, 2013 at 9:41 a.m.
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