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home : opinion : opinion May 24, 2016


1/13/2013 6:01:00 AM
Editorial Column: A case of everyone going too far

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
Miner Staff Reporter


How do you know when you've gone too far in discussing a touchy subject?

When a newspaper has to hire armed security guards and its employees and their families are living out of hotels because they're scared for their lives.

I'm taking about The Journal News of White Plains, N.Y. A few weeks ago the paper published the names and addresses of thousands of gun permit holders in two New York counties on a special interactive map on their website. The map was part of a story about the call to release more information about people who may own guns in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut.

The gun owners were understandably upset that their private information was published for the whole world to see. I don't blame them.

During the recent campaign, I received four phone calls at home from a local candidate's mother. My home phone number is not listed in the telephone book for a reason. I don't want to be bothered when I'm at home and not working. I don't give out my personal cell phone number or home address for the same reason.

People have a right to their privacy. I think The Journal News took things one step too far and published more information than was necessary to get their point across.

I also think gun owners across the nation have taken their response to the article too far.

According to The New York Times, it started with the newspaper's reporters and editors receiving phone calls and emails complaining about the story. The complaints soon escalated into threats to the entire staff of the paper.

Then someone published the home addresses and phone numbers of all of the paper's employees online, which led to someone publishing the names of the schools the employee's children attended. Photos of the publisher's home have also been posted online.

The Times reports that "some reporters have received notes saying they will be shot on their way to their cars; bloggers have encouraged people to steal credit card information from Journal employees; and two packages containing white powder have been sent to the newsroom and a third to a reporter's home (all were tested by police and proved to be harmless.)"

Employees who have nothing to do with the newsroom or the story are getting death threats. The CEO of Gannett, which owns USA Today and the Journal News, and the part time help who write up the wedding and birth announcements are getting threatening messages.

The publisher has paid for hotel rooms for employees who don't feel safe at home and paid for security guards to walk employees to their cars.

According to the publisher, most of the threats are not coming from White Plains but from people around the nation who have no connection to the town.

This is what discourse in this nation has come to ... death threats? Really?

I understand people being upset about their personal information being leaked onto the Internet and putting their family's lives in danger. I understand suing the paper for invasion of privacy, pushing for legislation to close those types of records to the public or writing a nasty letter to the editor. Threatening to shoot someone is taking things too far.

Besides, at this point it wouldn't change anything - the information has already been released.

The people making these threats against the newspaper's employees are only encouraging the stereotype of the angry gun owner who will only relinquish his weapon "when they pry it from my cold, dead hands."

I have no problem with people owning guns. My husband, my father-in-law and my father all own guns. I've taken NRA courses to make sure I can safely load and fire a gun and I enjoy going out to the gun range to practice.

I do have a problem with people who have no connection to White Plains and whose personal information was not released threatening to kill someone or ruin their lives.

In fact, according to the New York Times, the gun owners of White Plains who did have their names and addresses published have shown more restraint than some of the national letter writers. Their solution? Boycott the paper's advertisers.


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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“i see what you are saying though anson, if someone doesnt share the same beliefs as you then they are wrong.”

Teej, as usual you are incorrect in your assessment. I do not expect people to share my beliefs – either personal or religious however I do not attempt to restrict those right through onerous legislation as practiced by the Republicans. The standards that you attempt to put off on me are actually the positions of the Right Wing Loon Idiot Fringe. But thank you for playing.


Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Article comment by: tj denton

actually anson, most of those you listed are crimes, not beliefs, and although i agree that racism is wrong, its still a belief whether you like it or not, if it is a non-violent stance then it is not a crime. and "homophobia" is just a term the left came up with to criminalize someone who doesnt believe that homosexuality is acceptable. i see what you are saying though anson, if someone doesnt share the same beliefs as you then they are wrong. got it.

Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“i thought you lefties supported acceptance of all beliefs and the democracy in which we fight for them?”

Who is this “we” you are referring to? And where did you ever get the idea that we “lefties” accept all beliefs? Racism is wrong. Homophobia is wrong. Raping children as a religious belief is wrong. Killing people you don’t like because of their religious beliefs is wrong. No, Teej, we do not accept all beliefs.

“… and yet because i believe in something, you attempt to insult me for it.”


Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Article comment by: tj denton

anson, why is it that us believeing that homosexuality and abortions are wrong, and stand up for that belief, makes us idiots?? i thought you lefties supported acceptance of all beliefs and the democracy in which we fight for them? and yet because i believe in something, you attempt to insult me for it. hypocrisy is a cologne that smells horrible anson.

Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“No Anson, we don't care what you do in your bedroom. (?)

Well the “our” was in reference to those who engage in sexual practices that, although they do not effect but seem to inflame the Right Wing Loon Idiot Fringe, such as same sex or other practices they do not agree with. Don’t want to get too specific here.

“As for women's health care decisions, please be more specific so we can have a debate on which decisions you want us to never mind about.”

Of course the elephant in the room is abortion, which is no ones business except that of a woman and her doctor. And there are those who want to see a woman’s ability to obtain contraception thought her health care provider denied. And those who want to force an invasive ultra-sound procedure (trans-vaginal ultrasound) on women. If you would like more examples I will gladly provide them.

“Plus, this thread is about the abuse of the First Amendment and the infringement upon the Second Amendment, so for once write your opinionated letter to editor for change.”

I suggest you follow the writings of others here who ramble on about things not even closely related to an ongoing thread. Once they are shut down, I will stop as well.

“Yeah, two excellent replies by Linda Athens and Frank Lee Speaking!”

And for some reason my response to this line has twice been censored … uhh, deleted, but I will try again.

“Excellent sarcasm. Succinct and to the point. Good job.


Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Article comment by: KDM online reader only

No Anson, we don't care what you do in your bedroom. (?)

As for women's health care decisions, please be more specific so we can have a debate on which decisions you want us to never mind about.

Plus, this thread is about the abuse of the First Amendment and the infringement upon the Second Amendment, so for once write your opinionated letter to editor for change.

By the way, Frank, I loved your latest humorous reply!


Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Article comment by: Roy Leggett

All the threats towards this newspapers employees came from spineless nuts. Probably most of them do not even own a gun but just want to stir up trouble. I have said no one would ever take my weapon unless I was dead but the reason being is simple. I will protect my family with my life. Any man who is not willing to protect his family with his life is not a man. Some people get involved in maters that do not concern them and like to stir up trouble, just because they do not have a life of their own so try to get involved in everyone elses lifes. Kind of like the noesy neighbor sindrome

Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Article comment by: Michael Betts

I see the voice of intolerance here pontificating making statements and claims that are complete fantasy. In your fantasy world the left wing is writing these letters so the right wing will look bad? Hopefully not even you are that irrational. In reality neither side(the fringe loons on the left or right) needs to work hard to make the fringe loons on the opposite end of the spectrum look bad. If you believe 10% of what you post here you are living breathing proof of this. Common sense is dead.

Posted: Monday, January 14, 2013
Article comment by: KDM online reader only

Yeah, two excellent replies by Linda Athens and Frank Lee Speaking!

I can't believe what a mambi-pambi, Bamby the deer bleeding heart liberal philosophical letter by a newspaper reporter who feels sorry for the editor and employees The Journal News, who potentially put millions of law abiding private citizens in danger.

The editor and employees of that socialist, liberal ideologue newspaper can certainly take of themselves, by showing what hypocrites they are by hiding behind ARMED security!

After all, "All the news that's fit to print", right?

Well then, they have to accept the consequences of abusing their "Freedom of the press" and the First Amendment.

Oh yeah I forgot, that does not apply to liberal-biased news media and fellow liberal Democrats who's goal is to silence conservatives.


Posted: Monday, January 14, 2013
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking

@harris stein

"The free practice of religion does not mean someone is free to push their beliefs on everyone else."

Sorry, you are wrong. They are indeed free to push their religion on others. But others are free to tell them to shove it. That's how it works.


Posted: Monday, January 14, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

I have no problem with the threats. The Journal News is a far left wing gun hating rag that has hounded and hurt people for years. They follow people to their homes, harrass them and fill them with fear. You reap what you sow Journal.

And my guess is, most of the threats are probably done by the left, knowing the blame will go on gun owners. That is the tactic of the Journal News...has been forever.

They have apparently believed their First Amendment rights are more important than gun owners Second Amendment rights. WRONG!!! The First Amendment rights do not give them the right to not only print the names and addresses of law abiding gun owners but also put out maps showing the easiest route to their homes. Even the entrances to their homes can now be seen.

This is endangering lives. No, you can't yell fire in a crowded theatre under the First Amendment either.

Now the bad guys know who does NOT have guns so they will be targeted to be burglarized. The gun owners will be targeted when they are at work to have their guns stolen. The Journal News went too far this time.


Posted: Monday, January 14, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“Here's a tip, stop trying to infringe on our rights and crap on the Constitution and there won't be a problem.”

Yeah, keep your noses out of our bedrooms and women’s health care decisions and … oh wait, that’s the Republicans screwin’ with us and that’s okay. Sorry.


Posted: Monday, January 14, 2013
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking

Those Journal News reporters, stalwart defenders of the 1st Amendment are unhappy that their actions had consequences. BooHoo........Somebody call the whaaaaaaaaaaaambulance. After what I just read on-line today, I would like to see every felon being processed out of jail in the NYC area be given a handout listing all the papers employees names, phone numbers, and home addresses. With luck, a few of them will be visited and discover how it feels to have their privacy violated and then become a victim.

And here's why:

http://newyork.newsday.com/news/nation/journal-news-gun-permit-map-used-by-burglars-to-target-white-plains-home-1.4441678

"Well it’s already happened that one of the homes that is listed on the map as having guns has been the target of a robbery, and it appears the thieves went straight for the gun safe."

"From Newyork.newsday.com, “At least two burglars broke into a home on Davis Avenue at 9:30 p.m. Saturday but were unsuccessful in an attempt to open the safe, which contained legally owned weapons, according to a law enforcement source. One suspect was taken into custody, the source said.”

This is just the first incident, it won't be the last. There is a very good possibility that someone will be killed because the paper listed them.

The paper did NOT publish the addresses trying practice good journalism, they did it to pump up sales for their failing paper.

The paper has put thousands of people in danger, now they can experiance how it feels.


Posted: Sunday, January 13, 2013
Article comment by: Freedom Lover

The left continues to push and push and when they finally get 'pushed' back, they whine that they are the 'victims'.

Here's a tip, stop trying to infringe on our rights and crap on the Constitution and there won't be a problem.


Posted: Sunday, January 13, 2013
Article comment by: pl .....

Someone once said, "If you're about to do something foolish, count to 10 first. If you're about to do something very foolish, count to 100 first. So let's all count to 100 here, then tell truth as we see it, and in some cases, as we have experienced it (remember what a Nazi Holocaust survivor once said to an audience, following a speaker who denied the Holocaust - "A man with experience need never bow before a man with an argument"). There is so much crime, and some of it consists of crimes committed under colour of authority. It takes the 'reasonableness' right out of the equation. But if it will impress anyone, we can count to 100 first - during which time we'll calculate all their crimes - then do what we gotta do.

Posted: Sunday, January 13, 2013
Article comment by: harris stein

All the fringe players have come out of the woodwork following the tragedy in Newtown CT. The political center is being drowned out by a few on the fringe who keep up the drumbeats. And make no mistake, it's the fringe on the right and the fringe on the left.

We all want to believe that this is a phenomenon of the 21st Century. Sorry to say that it has been this way in this country from the get go. We confuse freedom to do as we please with freedom to be left alone. These are not the same but they aren't apples and oranges either.

Now we have well meaning people who have twisted not just the 2nd Amendment but the 1st Amendment as well. The free practice of religion does not mean someone is free to push their beliefs on everyone else. The free practice of religion means that I want to be free from those who believe that their religious belief is the only way to get to heaven and avoid hell. Well, I don't believe in heaven or hell but yet I am constantly bombarded by well meaning people telling me that I will burn in hell anyway. Anybody got a match?


Posted: Sunday, January 13, 2013
Article comment by: justanobody sr

I did not know it had escalated THAT far. but, sounds like the paper has no problem posting OTHER peoples private info, but has a problem with their private info being posted.
No, I don't condone any of it, but if your going to play hardball, then expect the same.


Posted: Sunday, January 13, 2013
Article comment by: Butch Meriwether

Nice column Suzanne, I see what you mean about how far these threats have gone and yes, something needs to be done. But in the same text, look at the people who make comments and attack people for writing letters to the editor, columns and blogs locally. Many of those "attackers" may have resided in Kingman or the surrounding areas many moons ago and never plan on returning to our area, but seem to put their two cents in.

Posted: Sunday, January 13, 2013
Article comment by: Origional Kingman Resident

@Suzanne

Death threats are never ok, but publicizing the addresses of the managing staff of the paper was a just action. The paper not only put the people holding hand gun permits at risk, but they also put their neighbors, who are assumingly unarmed, at risk as well.

A law suit will not help this situation. Law suits take years to resolve. Besides, monetary rewards aren't the issue. What needed to happen was the news paper at issue, (and any other news paper with similar ideas), needed to find out that it is not ok to release the personal information of and vilify law abiding citizens in an attempt to intimidate all legal gun owners in the country.




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