Boycott on Inky, We Disagree

The Inquirer's decision to hire "torture memo" author John Yoo sparks a boycott. We say let the torture guy talk.

The Philadelphia Inquirer has hired John Yoo, the author of the infamous “torture memos,” as a columnist. has called for a boycott of the Inquirer because of this decision, as Yoo is the scholar that made it legally possible for the Bush Administration to torture terrorism suspects.

We, on the other hand, would like to applaud the Philadelphia Inquirer.

No, we don’t like torture. But we do like the exchange of ideas in a free society, as well as the idea of media giants admitting their political slants, instead of couching them in so-called “unbiased journalism.”

Allow us to explain:

To assume that the people of Philadelphia are such morons that the exposure of Yoo’s ideas and beliefs will be harmful and insidious is insulting to the people of Philadelphia.

Extreme views and the opposition’s reaction to those views are what created this country and what keep it a society of free speech and ever-changing ideas. Heated debate is what makes people think hard about what is good and right, and not lazily allow the powers that be decide their lives and their laws for them.

Suffice it to say that this is pretty much the crowning achievement of Brian Tierney’s quest to, brick by brick, turn the Inky into a parlor for a conservative base…”’s Joey Sweeney writes.

So what?

Anyone who knows the history of journalism would know that the idea of a neutral media has only been in existence since the last half of the 20th Century, and more importantly it has been a failed idea.

Newspapers were created to encourage social debate and discussion. If there was a Federalist paper, an Anti-Federalist paper was created in response. The fallacy of the so-called “unbiased media” of the past 70-plus years is that newspapers and broadcast stations claim to be neutral when they rarely are.

As long as human beings continue to write the news, human nature will always provide a slanted opinion, no matter how subtle or couched or unintentional.

There is no neutrality in journalism. There never has been.

Sweeney admits to newspapers’ purpose in social commentary: “…Newspapers are indeed here, in part and for the moment, to stimulate debate.” Yet, he follows that with approving of the existence of the “droning” Michael Smerconish and the buffoon-like Rick Santorum on the Inquirer’s op-ed pages. This defeats the purpose of “stimulating debate.” If no one’s paying attention and no one is getting fired up, there is no discussion at all.

“But to give voice to one of the architects of one of America’s darkest moments ever is simply a bridge too far,” writes Sweeney.


If this is in fact one of the “architects of America’s darkest moments” isn’t it better to get that conversation out in the open, to allow the American people to react to that voice, so that such things never happen again? Since when is it an American belief to shut someone up just because we may not agree with him?

If you want to defeat your enemies, you’ve got to know what they’re about.

If you want a free society, you’ve got to allow all views to be voiced.

So go ahead Philadelphia Inquirer. Put John Yoo on the front page. Allow people to read what he has to say and form an opinion of their own. Be proud of the fact that you are inciting discussion, debate and (dare I say it?) individual thought.

For those of you who close your eyes and ears in boycott, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to open your mind. If the actions of Yoo, in creating a way for the U.S. President to have powers beyond what the authors of the Constitution ever meant for him to have, are disgusting to you, don’t you want to know what he has to say? Don’t you want to pick the brain of the scholar whose work helped allow the torture of POWs, so that it will never happen again?

Think about it.

Note: If Sweeney hates what the guy has to say that much, it probably would have done him better to ignore it. If nothing else, he brought curiosity and attention to Yoo, and probably more newspaper sales, not less.

But Sweeney did stimulate a social debate, and for that I tip my hat.

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