With regard to the letter above, Mr. Turlington has written many letters for many years to The Times-Journal, and we respect our readers’ opinion.
In his letter, he claims his First Amendment rights are being violated. No, we did not print two of his most recent ones, but no rights have been violated.
“All letters are subject to editing, and The Times-Journal reserves the right to refuse publication”. This is a statement that has printed on nearly every opinion page, for the last year, at least. As a privately owned entity with editorial control, we are free to print what letters or editorial content we wish.
Newspapers in the United States have the First Amendment right to refuse any letter. The Supreme Court addressed this issue of editorial control and freedom of press in 1974 when a Florida political candidate brought suit against The Miami Herald. According to freedomforuminstitute.org, the Court said “The choice of material to go into a newspaper, and the decisions made as to limitations on the size and content of the paper, and treatment of public issues and public officials — whether fair or unfair — constitute the exercise of editorial control and judgment. It has yet to be demonstrated how governmental regulation of this crucial process can be exercised consistent with First Amendment guarantees of a free press as they have evolved to this time.”
The letters that Mr. Turlington is referring to were rejected because they contained controversial rhetoric about race. We made an editorial decision because some of our readers would undoubtedly find it offensive. We were happy to call Mr. Turlington and inform him of this, and we are happy to print his letters in the future, so long as he chooses to express his thoughts in a way that is more appropriate to civil discourse.
— Our View is the opinion of the Times-Journal’s editorial board, which includes Publisher Steven Stiefel and Managing Editor Emily Kirby.