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Friday, January 25, 2008

Low Tidings, Indeed

Someone sent me a story called Why I Should Be Our Next President by Yo Mama Bin Barack, which you can find here, and if not, I can e-mail it to you. It's racist and sexist swill - references to jive talk and especially b-slapping abound - which did not surprise me. What did confound me is that it wasn't in some right-wing manifesto. It appeared in The Independent, a Pennysaver-type of adzine publication for the east end of Long Island, including the chichi Hamptons. This is the electronic version, of course, but there is a print version every Wednesday.

I was willing to suggest the piece was an aberration - I'd never seen the publication before - until I also found this thing by someone named Karen Fredericks:

In case you can't read it, the explanatory balloon on the left talks about how some women felt betrayed by Oprah's support for Barack Obama, rather than the woman, Hillary Clinton. The word balloon on the right reads:
Lord have mercy. I didn't get this rich by being stupid. A female president might improve the lives of women. Then they might have something better to do than watch my dopey television program.
Oprah no dummy.
Besides that Obama gets my va-jay-jay all tingly.

Within 24 hours, the Barack story, written by publisher Rick Murphy, was replaced by this:
By Rick Murphy
Our Low Tidings "humor" column that appeared in last week's issue of The Independent that was supposed to satirically address the increasing hostility between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama was ill conceived and offensive. The Independent, a multicultural employer with a 13-year history of diversity, apologizes for this lapse of judgment. The column has been removed from our website and a complete apology will be printed in next week's issue.

Except that the original link to the story was still working this morning. We all say things we oughtn't but this apparent attempt at "humor" seemed egregiously wrong-headed, and not very good business, to boot.

Here's the Newsday article. It cites Jerry Della Femina as publisher. Ad guru Della Femina also has a regular column, which is more in line with the usual liberal bashing (Alec Baldwin, et al.), but with at least a sense of propriety.

Meanwhile, Channel 7 news (WABC-TV in NYC) was scheduled to carry a segment about the offending article at 5pm yesterday.

Here's the contact info for the publisher:
The Independent News, 74 Montauk Highway, Suite 19, East Hampton, NY 11937
Phone: 631-324-2500 Business Fax: 631-324-6496 Editorial Fax: 631-324-2351
Rick Murphy, Editor -
James J. Mackin, Publisher -
Meanwhile, also annoying me is that idiot church group stalking Heath Ledger's funeral because he was in Brokeback Mountain. These people give Christianity a bad name. But WABC seems to be LOVING covering his death, which they're running as a local story, which, I suppose, it is.



Anonymous said...

Morning Roger,

Re: today's Newsday and the furor over the article - Del Femina's comments were interesting, reminiscent of Sgt. Shultz' comments from Hogan's Heroes, "I know nothing!"

Any Jeopardy champion should remember that show.

Cheers !

Walter Reid

Anonymous said...

I told you I forwarded that piece of crap in the Independent to folks with some power and urged them to write to asshole Jerry Della Femina. Here's what happened. (1/24/2008)


Roger Green said...

I've gotten access to some correspondence:

On Jan 25, 2008, at 12:42 AM, Jerry Della Femina wrote:

Dear Mr. Henry.
The article by our editor Rick Murphy was horrible.
Mr. Murphy thought it was satire. It wasn't. It was not funny and there is nothing that anyone can say that excuses it.
I regret that it appeared in The Independent.
Ben Sneed who is the highest paid member of our newspaper is an African American. He and I spoke about this offensive article today and frankly we are at a loss for words. We did decide to offer the NAACP two pages of the newspaper free for them to use in any way they wish. For the Obama campaign or just to condemn the paper for this disgusting article.
I can make you this promise. This will not happen again.

All the best
Jerry Della Femina
Subject: Re: Offensive article

Dear Mr. Della Femina,

I appreciate your apology for the racist, sexist articles that appeared in this week's Independent.

By now you have no doubt heard from many others who also have echoed my sentiments -- including last night's report on Channel 7.

Since writing my email, it has also come to my attention that this incident was only the latest in a series of ethnically, racially, and sexually predjucial "humor" columns that the Independent has published while Mr. Murphy has been Editor and Co-Publisher.

These include a vile attack on Hillary Clinton last week, which still resides on your web site. They also include many others that still burn in people's memories -- especially one on the "Shinnecracks" and another on breast cancer victims. Both of these occasioned protests outside your office and generated similar apologies and offers of free space for post-publication replies at the time.

Here I believe we may have an ideal case for the application of a "three strikes you're out," serial offender policy -- the kind of sanctions policy that conservatives usually support.

It is high time for Mr. Murphy to follow in Don Imus' footsteps, take responsibility for these repeated prejudicial errors, and resign.

Absent that, I think it becomes your responsibility, as the paper's founder and largest investor, to show him the door. I'd also encourage you too replace him with an Editor who shows better elementary judgment.

Let's be clear -- this is not a question of The Independent's RIGHT to publish anything it wishes -- no matter how offensive. But your readers also have the right to demand that you become more sensitive to this community's feelings.

Short of ousting Mr. Murphy, I will have to regard your apology with a grain of table salt, and regard this whole episode as just a cynical effort by the Independent and its owners to boost circulation.


James S. Henry, Esq.
Managing Partner
Cooperating Attorney, NYCLU/ACLU

Anonymous said...

oh pleze.

"Lemme mess you over, and then offer you free ad space in the very vehicle of your messing-over."
As if the NAACP would want to be in print in The Independent, except to let the paper know what it has done wrong, who it wronged, and how and when.

Anonymous said...

Unlike the many "anonymous-asses" on this site, phonies all, I identify myself:

The Independent article is parody. There are tens of thousands of parodies published with no one taking offense. In politics everyone is a target because they make themselves targets. They are game! It is the nature of things in the real world. Being black, or Jewish, or Catholic does not make one immune from being parodied. Chill out! Obama is not harmed and will only be harmed by his own actions and skills in dealing with the Clinton Machine that is out to decapitate him.

I wonder if the very same people who are SO offended by Rick Murphy's parody are equally offended by the millions of web references to your ELECTED president and vice president as: "Chimp", "Moron", "The Idiot in the White House," etc....DURING TIME OF WAR?

Do YOU think it is appropriate to depict leaders during war as idiots? Even if you don't agree with their policies?

Obama is NOT our president. He has a chance of becoming president provided he doesn't self-destruct. And if and when that happens watch out. Murphy's jokes will be nothing next to what will come down the pike.

Obama is just one of many empty suits or dress running for president in both parties. He is no more immune from being parodied because of race or Hillary because of sex than any other candidate who happens to use race or sex TO GET ELECTED.

They both have.

Andrew G. Benjamin

----and refer to this published article:


It's not what you think. It is what you say.

You cannot say much these days without maligning someone. What you say may be truthful or merely indicate your biases. In any case, it will be used against you.

Someone will always be offended. Better say nothing at all.

Rush Limbaugh, Lt . Gen. William Boykin, and Gregg Easterbrook have all provoked someone. All are in the public eye, two make their living in the world of ideas. Limbaugh offended Blacks; Boykin, Muslims; and Easterbrook, Jews; all are conservatives, and not one meant offense to anyone.

Liberals consider themselves very aggrieved indeed. They'd like to can the "perps" for exercising their constitutionally-protected right to free speech.

Clearly, as long as one does not advocate criminality or aid the enemies of the state, one has inalienable rights to say what one thinks, regardless of what the other feels. Rather, it is the detractors who should be skewered and grilled because it is they who muzzle debate to deliberately impose what they consider acceptable civil discourse. Mostly, consider that "Politically Correct" disregards the truth.

Think about it. Politically Correct. Not ethically correct; not morally correct, nor is it logically correct!

Perhaps the P.C. Police would tell you what to think. But they cannot tell me.

PC-ness and The American Civil Liberties Union: neither has a problem defending "art," such as Crucifixes dipped in excrement. They will however, predictably resist freedom of expression for "disagreeable" (to them) speech and thought. Ironically this is the very right they had earlier fought for. In other words, they have no problem with free speech as long the speaker encourages leftist causes.

Earlier I observed that cultures can be measured by their contribution to mankind. With no exceptions, cultures that contributed zilch are the most likely to take exception to my views.

Lately, Christians and white males are the targets for those favoring the righting of wrongs that were, but are no longer, and will never be. Among Christians, the Catholics are set up for PC-"targeted killings". Make sure you're not born a Catholic or a white male. Convert now while you can!

The ACLU "supported the enforcement of anti-discrimination laws at the expense of civil liberties," according to David E. Bernstein,* "when they tried to force the Boy Scouts to accept activist gays who planned to promote respect for gays. (The Supremes later threw out the suit). "….by that logic…laws that ban religious anti-discrimination might require gay organizations to hire Catholics who would use their position to proselytize against homosexuality."

The activist lawyers at the ACLU and their supporters impose their PC-agenda into the private affairs and activities of individuals and private organizations by attempting to legislate through the activist courts for rights that don't exist, and behaviors that are unenforceable within the framework of conventional human affairs. They wish to extinguish critical opinion on campus, where PC reigns among academics and the student body; where conservative teachers are invisible, conservative speakers made as unwelcome as possible; and conservative student publications are de-funded and shut down.

Congress is soon to debate "The Academic Bill of Rights" submitted by Reps. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) and Walter B. Jones (R-NC), "that will ensure fairness in higher education and protect students from one-sided liberal propaganda; …and…safeguard the student's right to get an education rather than an indoctrination. University professors should…teach…our kids how to think, not what to think."

The educrats coerce diversity for all campus affairs and will punish those who resist; and they ensure that one category of diversity will be omitted and will never appear on the list -– the diversity of ideas.

The Bottom Line: Political Correctness transforms the nation's business from education, employment, entertainment and the arts. It is a corrosive, anti-democratic, irrational, authoritarian, and obnoxious ideology. The PC weapon is meant to control and stifle diversity of opinion and enrich those who contribute little to the public discourse and well-being for the benefit and perpetuation of individual mediocrity and social paralysis.

Andrew G. Benjamin

REF: You Can't Say That! The growing threat to civil liberties from anti-discrimination laws. David E. Bernstein (Cato Institute 2003)

Roger Green said...

MORE fallout:
Column in East End newspaper angers gay group


January 25 2008, 11:17 PM EST

A recent column about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodh,0,6693969.story am Clinton in a free weekly owned by Hamptons luminary Jerry Della Femina so infuriated members of the East End Gay Organization that they canceled a fundraiser in Della Femina's restaurant, leaders of the group said Friday.

The complete article can be viewed at:

Roger Green said...

Yes, the piece is in parody. Is parody somehow immune from taste?

I think it's appropriate to indicate when leaders - including the current "head of the free world" - are making really bad decisions, little things such as abrogating the Constitution. Yes, even in time of war.

If the parody had said that Obama was an idiot or moron, we wouldn't be having this discussion. It was the ethnic slur (and gender slur in Hillary Clinton's case) that are at issue.

For the record, I don't recall ever suggesting the President was a chimp. A chump, perhaps.

Roger Green said...


A couple more things. The Independent can write what it wants. It may alter who will patronize the paper.

And while politics is "rough and tumble", is this level of discourse what we really want?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Green,

I am not pretending to be an arbiter of "taste." I am an arbiter of freedom of speech that does not cross the line to inciting violence.

The Independent Parody is one of many possible tasteless parodies on many issues written by a brilliant satirist. His choice of going "tasteless" is a choice that some readers obviously appreciate given the wide coverage of the newspaper and many appreciative readers.

Where do YOU draw the line Sir?

At what point would you impose on others where to STOP 1. being funny, 2. being tasteless, 3. being mindful of others "feelings"?

I submit: you can indict Murphy as soon as you have provided evidence to this writer that you -- and Murphy's other critics -- have also applied the very same standards to Redd Fox, Dave Chappelle, Richard Pryor, Damon Wayans, Eddie Murphy, and Chris Rock -- all of whom have potentially offended many not of their race.

You CANNOT impose a double standard. A double standard is PC and for the reasons I wrote earlier, I do not find PC credible or justifiable.

Would you ENFORCE your standards on others? Would you allow others to impose their standards on you?

Moreover, I do not find Della Femina's apology dishonest or even necessary because 1. he did not write the article nor edit it, and 2. there is no need to apologize for a parody that is INTENDED as a parody and is a regular feature of the newspaper read by any sane man AS PARODY and SATIRE.

Parodies are more often than not tasteless by their nature within the comedic universe where the very first rule is to break the rules. Comedy that does not break rules or explore new ground -- often the bottom of the barrel in tastelessness and insult -- is NOT funny.

On that note, look at the cover of last month's RADAR and the nude Obama. How come you're not outraged at that cover seen by many more people than "LOW TIDINGS" which, in it's title warns about what is to come? Satire, that's what!

I would object to Murphy's pulling in his tail over the intolerance of the very same people who would find intolerance in others intolerant.

Andrew G. Benjamin

Roger Green said...

I believe in freedom of speech. I also believe when speech is unfunny, tasteless or unmindful, and this was all three, then I have the right to object. Where's my line? It's like that old Potter Stewart definition of pornography: I know it when I see it.

And Della Femina, as captain of the ship, appropriately apologizes - one can argue the efficacy of the apology, but the appropriateness of one from him, as well as Murphy, was a step in the right direction.

I feel no particular obligation to engage in your straw man argument about my "need" to chastise every single black comic that might have offended a white person at some point. My sense, though, is that you can give me chapter and verse of the offending texts. Knock yourself out; I'm not familiar enough to be clear what particular comments qualify. (And if they take shots about black people, where does THAT fit into your continuum?) But I'll say again; the "parody" wasn't at a nightclub or an HBO special, it was in a community newspaper, and from what I gather from the uproar, doesn't fit in with community standards.

And for the record, I wasn't familiar with RADAR, the nude Obama and Hillary and whether or not it's offensive. I've now seen it; it's not that funny, but the idea of parodying the Vanity Fair cover is an interesting idea. No, I wasn't particularly offended. What does that tell you? That clumsy words bother me more than goofy pictures?

I don't go out looking for things to offend me; life's too short, and I'm too busy. But someone I know pointed it out to me via e-mail; it bugged her, it bugged me, and I commented.