by Chris Davis
We’ve learned something about The Commercial Appeal’s management this week: They don’t think much of gay people. The newspaper won’t take sexual enhancement ads on the grounds that some readers might be offended. But it will run full page advertorials — advertisements that look like articles — warning readers of the homosexual agenda to seduce and convert heterosexual children, as it did last Sunday when it ran an ad titled "The Whole Truth About Homosexuality."
CA Editor Chris Peck issued this written response to complaints about the anti-gay ads: "The Commercial Appeal fully supports the rights of people to express opinions, even opinions we or others might find objectionable. This right to express opinion is fundamental to a free press and the First Amendment. And it's why we accept advertising that doesn't necessarily reflect our newspaper's editorial page positions. In relation to homosexuality, the newspaper editorial board actively has opposed any kind of discrimination based on race, gender, or sexual orientation, and will continue to do so. These two core principles will continue to guide us as we consider future advertising and news coverage."
Compare Peck’s defense to comments by the CA’s president and publisher George Cogswell from the article “Certain Ads Declined,” published July 13, 2012: “The Commercial Appeal has stopped accepting ads from a national vendor whose products are promoted as sexual enhancements.
"While the products are legal and protected under free speech laws, we recognize the sensibilities of those who find the ads to be of questionable taste," said George H. Cogswell III, president and publisher. "We have made the decision to discontinue publishing the ads out of respect for our readers."
What can be concluded by the fact that the CA refuses some ads because they may offend valued readers but accepts ads that make Jim Crow-style accusations that an entire group of people are engaged in conspiracy and perversion?