Freedom of the press, as long as you own it: Dayton City Paper shows its true colors

Alternative news weeklies are supposed to be the alternative to the mainstream media- muckrakers, agents provacateurs, the last bastion of free speech. However, with the declines in newspaper reading- even of the free variety, apparently, appeasing the advertisers is now function number 1. Toss in a bit of not willing to go against the political machine- which spends a lot of money on advertising each November- and we now have a local “alternative paper” that isn’t much of either.

Anti-Dean Lovelace ad created by David Lauri

The ad that David Lauri wants to run against Dean Lovelace

Esrati.com reader and local gay and lesbian rights activist, David Lauri writes about his attempt to run ads in Dayton City Paper against Dayton City Commissioner Dean Lovelace, the only commissioner to vote against an anti-discrimination ordinance (Commissioner Joey Williams sidelined himself with an abstention). DCP publisher Paul Noah not only is requiring Lauri to submit the ads, but is now the judge and jury on Mr. Lauri’s very smart purchase of www.deanlovelace.com to wage his anti-Lovelace campaign after learning that Lovelace hadn’t registered his own name despite plans to continue to run for office (Lauri claims he learned of this gaff on Esrati.com)

From David Lauri’s blog:

Paul Noah thinks I was wrong to register the domain name deanlovelace.com. In his email to me he went on to say:

For the record, I have no opinion of Mr. Lovelace or of his record as I know little about him. However, I am disappointed that you decided to use Mr. Lovelace’s domain name for the purpose of campaigning against him. I believe if you would have left his domain name alone and, instead, created and promoted a website domain name such as “VoteAgainstDeanLovelace.com” you would have accomplished the same results without appearing to obviously and blatantly having taken advantage of Mr. Lovelace’s failure to remember to renew his domain name. In all fairness, it’s most likely that Mr. Lovelace had confided in another individual to register his domain name on his behalf and, therefore, it was likely the failure of his confident to renew the domain name. In my eyes, the fact that you had exploited Mr. Lovelace’s domain name expiration by purchasing the rights to it and utilizing it as a resource to campaign against him significantly reduces the credibility of your mission. It is for this reason that the Dayton City Paper may end up declining your request anyway.

I’m a bit surprised by Paul Noah’s righteous indignation at my having created the website deanlove.com. I replied to him to tell him that I could have understood such indignation if I had created a spoof website purporting to be by Dean Lovelace himself but not given that the website clearly states that I own the site and that it is not affiliated with any candidate.

via David’s blog: 201108.

Lauri had also attempted to run ads in the Dayton LGBT Film Festival program- but was rebuffed by the organization because the Downtown Priority Board (an elected, quasi-government organization) is a primary sponsor. Is this the new strategy for quashing political opposition? How can a quasi-government organization legally quash free speech? What kind of First Amendment do we have left? Is the Internet the only place where political speech can be left uncensored?

Lauri has every right to not only own www.deanlovelace.com, where he clearly identifies himself as the site owner- and to post his position on Mr. Lovelace’s record, but he also has every right to advertise anywhere he wants. (Note, his ad does need to say who is paying for it to meet campaign standards before it could run in a newspaper). Political speech is supposed to be one of the most protected forms of free speech in this country, where the right to question and call attention to real issues, or even fake ones (“Swiftboarting” – anyone?). Mr. Lauri probably doesn’t have the time or money to take the legal route to protect his rights of free speech, nor will the ACLU help him out.

The only thing we can do is help him spread his word, and support his efforts via calling attention to the issue- and by telling the Dayton City Paper and their advertisers that we would prefer they move their advertising to the internet- or to media that doesn’t censor political speech.

The tagline the Dayton City Paper uses in WYSO ads is”Look no further, look deeper.” Mr. Lauri made me look deeper into DCP policy and I didn’t like what I found.

I urge all readers of this site to send a note to Paul Noah, [email protected] and tell him why he should not only accept the ad (with the addition of who paid for it) in his paper, but that he should keep his opinion on his opinion pages – and not insert it into political ads.

{UPDATE} 14:00 – I just got off the phone with Paul Noah, who adamantly claims that he’s not refusing to run Mr. Lauri’s ad- but, is claiming his publication hasn’t run any political ads, he doesn’t have a rate card for them, and he is working on getting those things in order for the Oct. 18th issue.

The e-mail exchange between Mr. Lauri and Mr. Noah was too long for me to include- esp. since most of it exists on David Lauri’s site.  In it, Mr. Noah clearly states:

Also for the record, I happen to feel that any person who actively attempts to limit the rights of any individual because of their sexual orientation does not deserve to hold public office.  As for whether or not Mr. Lovelace has, indeed, acted in this manner I am simply uninformed.

But in the very next paragraph, Noah continues to stick his nose where it doesn’t belong with the URL again:

I am interested in your thoughts about my commentary above as I would hope that you consider doing the right thing and play fairly here.  For example, if you would have accidentally forgotten to renew DavidLauri.com and someone else grabbed it from you for purposes against you, how would you feel?

I’ve known Paul Noah for about 3 years- when he stepped in to save DCP. He is politically naive, however, not having a political rate or policy in place at this point is inexcusable.

Mr. Noah has been inundated with calls and e-mails about this article this morning. I asked him to respond on this site, which he chose not to do, even after I asked him nicely to do. In the grand scheme of things, as one commenter has already said- the DCP “stopped being interesting or relevant years ago.” This exercise with Mr. Lauri may be a big part of the reason why.

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14 Responses

  1. David Sparks August 22, 2011 / 9:03 am
    I would would gladly run Mr. Lauri’s ad in the Dayton Informer.

    Since this June we’ve had:

    2,835 

    Absolute Unique Visitors

    17,584 

    Pageviews

    4,874 

    Visits

    3.61 

    Average Pageviews

    Our facebook page has had over 45,000 views of our posts, and our youtube channel has had over 11,000 video views.

    We cover City Commission more thoroughly than anyone else, and would love to run Mr. Lauri’s ad. To be fair, we would run a disclaimer under the ad that it is not the official web site of Mr. Lovelace, but rather, an opposition site. But that’s the only limit we would put on anything, if you consider that a limit (I consider it just being honest).

  2. Jamie August 22, 2011 / 9:15 am
    The Dayton City Paper stopped being interesting or relevant years ago.
  3. Allison August 22, 2011 / 12:31 pm
    Strange that Paul Noah, based on his Diamonds experiences, is taking such an anti-First Amendment stand.
  4. David Esrati August 22, 2011 / 2:07 pm

    Had to update the article after talking with Mr. Noah. Thanks to all who have called or written him today.

  5. David Lauri August 22, 2011 / 2:37 pm
    Just to be clear, I never claimed that Paul Noah had rejected my ad.  In my blog post about the matter, I reported that he had still not come to a decision as to whether he would reject my ad, and I shared his comments as to why “the Dayton City Paper may end up declining your request anyway” (because I’d been bad, in Paul Noah’s opinion, and created a deanlovelace.com website instead of a VoteAgainstDeanLovelace.com).
  6. Robert Vigh August 24, 2011 / 1:04 pm
    DE: Free Speech is just that……..Free to go out and speak it. But, it is not free to use a paper, or a website, or anything else. So, if someone wants to refuse to run an ad, that is not really impeding free speech. However, I am not sure how not accepting money from DL in this situation is a good business decision either. I just thought I should point out it does not seem like a free speech issue, more like DDN is a bias, non-neutral advertising agency.

    DL: Good for you on snagging the domain name. It is property that is for sale and you paid the tab when he did not.

    DL: What exactly did Dean do? I read the website, but did not find it definitive. For example, is LGBT discrimination already illegal and he would not put in place a specific ordinance to elevate discrimination of LGBT people above others. Or did he specifically say its ok to desicriminate against LGBT? Is he guilty of actively promoting discrimination or guilty of not actively giving special consideration to a group of people? I am curious if you have more background on it. I figure the site is meant to be KISS.    
      

  7. Bubba Jones August 24, 2011 / 3:22 pm
    David L – GOOD FOR YOU for snagging Dean’s URL.  I laughed when I read about it on this website several months ago.  Take it as a compliment that Mean Dean called you “A Jerk”!!
     
    Keep it just between you and me, but I’m quietly waiting for David E to forget to re-register esrati.com.  When he does I’m going to jump on it and turn the URL into a Libertarian website! ;)
     
  8. David Lauri August 24, 2011 / 7:28 pm
    Robert, discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is legal in most of Ohio.  In other words, it’s legal to say flat out that you will not hire queers or that you won’t rent to a lesbian couple or that you won’t serve a gay couple in your restaurant.  It’s also legal to say that you won’t hire straight people, but straight people don’t seem to face many such situations.

    The exception, in Ohio, is in local jurisdictions that have banned such discrimination.  If you face such discrimination in cities such as Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Akron, Toledo or, since 2007 despite Dean Lovelace, Dayton (see the ACLU Ohio website for the full list), you have legal recourse.  If you face such discrimination elsewhere, say in Kettering or Vandalia or Washington Township, there’s nothing you can do about it.

    Dean Lovelace has twice said one thing but done another.

    In 1999 he voted in favor of a non-binding resolution decrying all discrimination, but he voted to keep discrimination based on sexual orientation legal. In other words, in 1999, Dean Lovelace thought it should remain legal in the City of Dayton to fire someone for being gay or to refuse to rent to people who are lesbian.

    In 2007 he said “it [banning such discrimination] is the right thing to do” but he nonetheless again voted to keep discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity legal in the city. In other words, in 2007, Dean Lovelace still thought it should remain legal in the City of Dayton to refuse to hire someone because he’s gay or to refuse to rent to someone because she’s lesbian. In 2007, Dean Lovelace was in the minority and despite his no vote, such discrimination was outlawed in Dayton.

    Dean Lovelace is right when he says that the gay movement is not like the [African American] civil rights movement.  There are important differences.  Black people cannot hide the color of their skin.  Black people in the United States do not operate on a level playing field — they continue to face economic challenges brought on by centuries of slavery and segregation.  However, most African American children have supportive parents to whom they can turn when they learn the unpleasant realities of racism.  Black children do not have to come out as black to their parents. Most gay children are born to heterosexual parents, many of whom are not supportive. Black children do not have to worry about their own parents kicking them out of their homes for being black.

    Dean Lovelace seems to think that discrimination based on sexual orientation should remain legal until there’s been enough discussion.  He would never have accepted a white politician telling him that discrimination based on race should have remained legal until there had been enough discussion.

    Dean Lovelace says that gay rights are not part of his agenda.  What a shame that he thinks that his only constituency is African Americans. What a shame that he fails to realize that there are LGBT African Americans.  What a shame that he refuses to include equal treatment of all Daytonians as part of his agenda. 

  9. Robert Vigh August 24, 2011 / 9:32 pm
    DL: Thank you for elaborating about Ohio and the way it works. I understand why you are irritated/annoyed/(insert proper adjective that does not sound like I am minimizing). Do these ordinances encompass all employers, public and private, and of all sizes? You and I have different points of view I am sure, so we can avoid that part of the conversation if you like, but I am curious about the ordinances if you know off hand.
  10. David Lauri August 25, 2011 / 9:19 am
    Robert, the full text of Dayton’s non-discrimination ordinance is available online at:
    http://library.municode.com/showDocument.aspx?clientID=13723&docID=0
     
    Dayton’s ordinance does cover both public and private employers but covers only “any person who employs four or more persons” and “does not include the employment of individuals in domestic service.” The housing provision of the ordinance  does not apply “to the rental of a housing accommodation in any building which contains housing accommodations for not more than four families living independently of each other, if the owner actually maintains and occupies one of the housing accommodations as his or her residence.”
  11. Robert Vigh August 25, 2011 / 12:21 pm
    DL: Thank you kindly for the education.
  12. David Lauri December 23, 2011 / 4:00 pm
    I think Newt Gingrich might have just surpassed Dean Lovelace as my favorite politician.
     
    Earlier this week Newt this week told a gay Iowan that he’d be better off supporting President Obama than Newt.
     
    Now it’s come out that Newt does not own the domain name newtgingrich.com.  Wow.  A local politician forgetting about snagging one’s eponymic domain name is one thing, but you’d think a national presidential candidate would have staff who’d think about such things.  Here’s an account of Newt’s not owning his own domain name from The Stranger, “Newt Gingrich Does Not Own NewtGingrich.com,” which says:

    The URL is instead owned by the liberal PAC American Bridge 21st Century, who are using the addy to redirect people to a bunch of websites that reflect poorly on Newt Gingrich

    http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2011/12/23/newt-gingrich-does-not-own-newtgingrichcom

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