Archive for Sunday, September 9, 2007

Mayor says he’ll keep job despite risque mail

September 9, 2007

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— A day after he vowed to resign his post if residents requested it in the wake of a risque e-mail he sent, Tonganoxie Mayor Mike Vestal said Saturday he has received nothing but support.

Vestal added that he even received a request from former Mayor Dave Taylor.

"Mayor Taylor said do not resign," Vestal said.

When contacted, Taylor said he did not wish to make any comments.

Tonganoxie City Councilman Steve Gumm said he has had a good working relationship with Vestal since the mayor took office in May.

"He's done a good job since he's started; obviously there's a learning curve for everyone when you get started," he said. "He's enthusiastic. Obviously he wanted to be mayor; he appears to take it seriously. From what I see, he tries to do a good job for the city."

Vestal appreciated the support of council and community members.

"It makes me feel good they respect me that much," Vestal said. "I think I have done a good job. I've run a professional meeting. I don't want to cloud anyone's judgment of me.

"Just because somebody makes a mistake, everybody makes mistakes. I have seen a lot worse (e-mail). I've deleted all that stuff."

E-mail content

Vestal admitted sending an e-mail to "a couple of guys" Aug. 31. He said he inadvertently sent the e-mail to a 6News reporter, which is how the Journal-World obtained the e-mail.

The e-mail opened with the words: "Next Monday is National Female Breast Appreciation Day." It then showed a photo of a naked woman. Underneath the photo were the words "Beats the (expletive) out of Martin Luther King Day! Doesn't It?"

Vestal said that he usually does not forward such e-mails and stressed that he was not racist.

Phyllis Shilling, who owns Shilling Electric with her husband, Roger, in Tonganoxie, said the situation was unfortunate, but kept it in perspective.

"It's no big deal; (at the same time) it is a big deal and it was in poor taste," Shilling said. "And that's just an off-color joke. I can't say it was pornographic.

"I don't want to say it's accepted because it shouldn't be accepted. If I'd get it, I don't think I would be offended. I would think there would be funnier."

Shilling also said there are more important issues that the Leavenworth County community is facing.

"I think that it's odd that something of this nature would be so critical when there are so many other things that have affected the public in a stronger way," Shilling said. "I think Tongie is facing so many other things that are more newsworthy than this."

Comments

Feedback on the Journal-World's Web site mostly viewed the issue as moot, while others wrote in support of Vestal.

One of the posts said this:

"I know Mr. Vestal : I think he is an upstanding individual who deserves a lot of respect. He has overcome many obstacles in his life. He always greets you with a smile and treats you like you are a very very important person. He has a lot of great plans and things that he wants to accomplish while in office for the town of Tonganoxie. It would be a great loss to loose him over this stupid ordeal."

After several posts had been made on the site, Vestal issued a statement himself:

"I would like to thank everyone for their comments in my defense. However, it does not justify what I did. I make NO excuses for my actions, but would like to give a heartfelt apology to reporter Haley Harrison of Ch 6 News. I attempted to contact her personally to apologize, however I was unable to reach her. She is a very good person as well as a great reporter.

"What I did was wrong, I make no excuses for my actions. I believe I can still lead my City in the right direction.

"I would like to add in closing: The reporters failed to mention a comment that I felt was very important to convey to the public that 'I am not a racist.' : However I apologize to all of those who were offended by my lack of judgment.

Sincerely,

Mike Vestal,

Mayor,

City of Tonganoxie."

One post, however, took issue with the situation:

"Some of you that think MLK is not a big deal, are still living the past - the joke was stupid and racist - and some of you out there think it's funny. That's just sad."

Employee agreement

Vestal, who served on Tonganoxie City Council in the 1990s, was elected mayor in April.

Tonganoxie city employees are required to sign an agreement that prohibits employees to "knowingly communicate, download or forward anything that might be construed as harassing, hostile or offensive based on ethnicity, race, sex, disability, age, religion or national origin."

Vestal said he never had seen the agreement before, and it was unclear whether he is subject to the agreement as either the city's mayor or an employee of a contractor that does business with the city.

Journal-World staff writer Erin Castaneda contributed to this report.

Comments

oldgoof 7 years, 7 months ago

TWO days of articles out this little crappy job of reporting something that isn't news? Oh, keep on going Chad, maybe you can get a few more bumps out of this.

oldgoof 7 years, 7 months ago

Sorry Chad, the second article wasn't yours.... But my sentiments remain.

Sigmund 7 years, 7 months ago

Shawn Linenberger writes "Feedback on the Journal-World's Web site mostly viewed the issue as moot, while others wrote in support of Vestal."

"Mostly moot", really Shawn? "Others wrote in support", is that right Shawn??? I think this significantly understates the case almost as much as the original article overstated the case in the first place. Oddly, it completely ignores the barrage of criticism leveled at reporter Chad Lawhorn, reporterette Haley Harrison, and the World Company itself. http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2007/sep...

Where is it mentioned that the headline changed from "Mayor admits pornographic e-mail" to "Mayor admits risque e-mail"? BTW, the URL above STILL reads: "/news/2007/sep/08/tonganoxie_mayor_admits_sending_pornographic_email/", NOT risque.

No mention either that the email account he used is a private account at Sunflower Broadband, which is owned by the World Company which also owns what is sometimes laughing referred to as an "Award Winning" LJWorld.com?

This article is almost as slanted, biased, and disgusting as the original. Damn you Dolf Simons, Jr. and Joel Mathis you need to make this situation right. A direct and public apology to this man for your "reporters" sleazy display of "journalism" is the LEAST you can do. Even after doing the right thing there will still be people in these communities who will mistakenly believe that this man was distributing racist pornography from a City own e-mail account. That is defamation pure and simple and I think any decent attorney could make a credible prima facie case, and maybe even prove at trial, actual malice on the part of The World Company and its employees.

The only thing that is "mostly moot" here are the editors and ownership of the LJWorld and it speaks volumes about the character of the ownership, management, and employees of the World Company.

Sigmund 7 years, 7 months ago

KansasDaughter, good question. I understand that the email was inadvertently sent to World Company reporterette Haley Harrison and despite a week of Mr. Vestal's attempts to call and apologize to her, she refused to take his call. Then World Company reporter Chad Lawhorn published the original "Mayor admits pornographic e-mail" as breaking news, complete with red banner. It is also important to note that no other recipient of the email complained about the email. Apparently, only Ms. Harrison panties were knotted.

But to answer your question, I think it is important for subscribers to Sunflower Broadband, the provider of Mr. Vestal's broadband connection and email account, to understand that their personal email accounts are managed by employees of the very same World Company. I guess those subscribers can all hope that those World Company have more integrity, character, judgment, and professionalism than Chad and Haley.

Would you trust YOUR personal e-mail to a Company that tolerates this kind sleazy yellow sheet journalism by it's employees, and then instead of apologizing tries to cover their misdeeds with this whitewash follow up? I wouldn't, after all they all report to the same owner, Dolf Simons, Jr.

If I gave the impression that any Sunflower Broadband employees leaked the offending email, I apologize, that was not my intent. Thanks for the opportunity to clarify.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 7 years, 7 months ago

This is a very funny if it was not for the stupid and childish news article that started it. I agree with all, this is a tempest in a teapot. The Journal-World thought they had another Michael Jackson type of story and flaunted it on their front page. Incredibly tasteless and stupid, in my opinion.

Jesus Christ said that "let anyone here that is without sin cast the first stone". Good to know that all the employees of the Journal-World have NEVER sent a tasteless, demeaning "joke" (a current staple of personal e-mail communications) to ANYONE! What a group of sparkling and clean individuals!

Fred Whitehead Jr. 7 years, 7 months ago

Ah, yes, another MIchael Jackson type, tempest-in-a-teapot story! I agree with most of the already expressed sentiment, this story is another childish and stupid event. Sending these type of e-mails are a current staple of personal e-mail communication between some people and those who get their ire all stirred up are just being stupid and churlish. Maybe the Journal-World could use some real professionalism in their news- reporting. I fail to see any in this sort of character-assasination that seems to be so popular in the current media.

Sigmund 7 years, 7 months ago

Did you all notice at the end of this report the "Journal-World staff writer Erin Castaneda contributed to this report." If you look at the original "story" there is not similar "Channel 6 on air personality Haley Harrison contributed to this report." In fact, reporterette Ms Harrison name is completely missing from the original story nor is she mentioned in this story. How many people here think that little tidbit is relevant? http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2007/sep...

Haley Harrison IS the story, she was the only one offended! As is Chad Lawhorn who failed to mention that small bit of information. So now hyper-sensitive reporterette gets offended and instead of confronting Mr. Vestal avoids his repeated calls and gets fellow reporter to do a smear job about him sending "racist pornography" and all the while keeping her name out of it. Just how unethical and sleazy is that?

It is just a very small ethical step from this to Sunflower Broadband employees combing through Sunflower Broadband account emails, leaking incriminating ones to the LJWorld.com employees, who then writes an even more damaging stories all the while completely leaving out the name of Sunflower Broadband employee.

It is times like this I wish I had a current Kansas Bar membership. I would be drafting a six figure demand letter which included a requirement that the World Company implement ethics training for all of its management and employees. Topping the list of determining whether an action was ethical would be the question, "What Would Broadband Do?"

Sigmund 7 years, 7 months ago

Should have been "What would Broadband Man Do?

KsTwister 7 years, 7 months ago

LJW should grant itself this year's Darwin Award for its stupidity and its alienation of its intelligent and insight of their readers --who can write letters too. Their character assassination attempts failed and I might add backfired. A new city newspaper company I hope would recognize the potential here for some real reporting to this community without the corporate stranglehold that Broadband and the World Company with their biased opinions. No doubt an apology will not be forthcoming.

Sigmund 7 years, 7 months ago

Perhaps Haley Harrison. Chad Lawhorn, Shawn Linenberger, and Joel Mathis could make their application to the "The third Citizen Journalism Academy." They still have time as applications are accepted until September 14th at 5PM! http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2007/aug...

From the article.... "The CJA is sponsored by The World Company and the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Kansas University".

"CJA fellows will learn from educators and practicing journalists about the processes and standards that help translate community activities and events into "news."

"Many people today are on 'information overload,'" said Ann Brill, dean of the KU School of Journalism. "With all the media outlets, it's difficult to know what to pay attention to as well as the credibility of the people reporting and writing. Our hope with the CJA is to help citizens become better media consumers as well as help those passing along information to be responsible and accurate."

"Fellows also will learn how news decisions are made, the ethics of storytelling, how to ask the right questions and a number of other key topics."

"After five weeks, Fellows should have a clear understanding of how to ask the right questions, cultivate sources and tell a comprehensive story effectively in different and cutting-edge media."

Might I humbly suggest Haley Harrison. Chad Lawhorn, Shawn Linenberger, and Joel Mathis could all apparently benefit from this course, named in honor of one the most prestigious name in Kansas journalism? Could I further presume to suggest that Ms Brill and Kansas University reconsider its association with the World Company in light of this despicable demonstration of journalistic ethics?

BlackVelvet 7 years, 7 months ago

While it's unfortunate that Haley Harrison accidentally was included with those that Mayor Vestal intended to forward the email to, it certainly did not warrant any front page status as a "news" story. If the LJW honestly feels it did warrant front page coverage, I would hope if and when Haley or any of the Sunflower/LJW staff ever gets a traffic ticket, or farts in a movie theater, that too would warrant a "news" story! It's about that important.

Trouble 7 years, 7 months ago

Mayor Vestal- The joke was in poor taste. Don't resign because the comments that the (nobeliever) made is right about Jason Ward. Tongie could not be left in his hands. He would appoint one of his small minded thinkers like him self to replace the City Council seat. Then Tongie would be ran by the Banker Gumm and the wimp Truesdell and Wards small minded thinker. You need to apologize to the people of Tongie at the City Council meeting Monday and move on. Tongie has bigger problems like your City Administrator Yanez who thinks that he don't have to answer to anyone not even the Mayor or council. HE IS NOT GOING TO BE MICROMANAGED BY A BUNCH OF ELECTED OFFICIALS. Who does He think that he reports to? A BUNCH OF ELECTED OFFICIALS!! The City needs to get rid of him.

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 7 years, 7 months ago

Truesdell is the one who should resign. Wimp.

beatrice 7 years, 7 months ago

Siggi: "It is just a very small ethical step from this to Sunflower Broadband employees combing through Sunflower Broadband account emails, leaking incriminating ones to the LJWorld.com employees, who then writes an even more damaging stories all the while completely leaving out the name of Sunflower Broadband employee."

Quite the hyperbole there, don't ya think? The e-mail wasn't hunted down by Big Brother spying on people's personal accounts. No, it was sent by the person in question to a REPORTER -- meaning a person who reports on the actions of others, which is what happened. Let's not go off the deep end here.

Glad he isn't resigning. It was intended as private, even if the subject matter is highly questionable on several levels. Doing stupid things like mailing a reporter something you would rather not, or even acting like a good old boy who doesn't see sexism and racism when it lands on your computer, isn't against the law. If stupid were against the law, I'm sure many of us would need to spend an appropriate amount of time behind bars.

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 7 years, 7 months ago

Beatrice, I agree. I don't think the JW is snooping around in your email. Regardless of how we feel about their (mis)handling of the story, the email fell into their lap.

I also agree with your comments about stupidity. I saw Dick Gregory once, and he talked about hatred and how you, as an individual, have the right to hate anyone for any, or no, reason at all. Where it crosses the line is when your hatred becomes institutionalized in hiring practices, law enforcement procedures, etc.

It's quite obvious from the line up of public officials we have at every level that intelligence and integrity are hardly requirements for holding public office.

Sigmund 7 years, 7 months ago

Butt Beatrice, it is just a small step from what has happened down the slippery slope, don't you agree? The material may have been questionable to you, Haley, and Chad, but Beatrice most here agree it is FAR from the "racist pornography" that was originally implied, wouldn't you agree? And Beatrice given Haley Harrison unspoken role in this fiasco and the fact she is still MIA in all the stories and she was the only person complaining, if you feel comfortable with Sunflower Broadband handling your personal e-mail, I would certainly not discourage you!

beatrice 7 years, 7 months ago

Sig, my boy, I think we finally agree, in part. I don't think an image of a half-nekid lady constitutes pornography, but it is hardly FAR from it, either. Part of the idea of the joke was the cheap thrill of seeing the woman's boobies. Seeing body parts for a cheap thrill is kind of in the same ball park as pornography, no? There was certainly a time in this country when such a thing was called pornographic (even recently, think of then Attorney General John Ashcroft covering the statue of Justice because it had an exposed breast). For it to have been deemed as porno, however, I agree that today it would have needed other stuff going on, or images of men's body parts (but not the bland kind sent around in spam e-mails by Nick Danger selling Viagra).

The other part of the joke has to do with MLK day -- not Veterans day, or Flag day, or any other holiday. It had to do with the one holiday designated to honor an African American, and apparently suggesting that a holiday for boobies is better than one honoring an American hero of the civil rights movement. And it is being sent around by white is most likely a bunch of white guys, including one who holds a political office. To say that there isn't a hint of racial currency there is to completely ignore the history of racial strife in our nation.

If it wasn't at least a tiny bit naughty and/or a tiny bit racist, why did Vestal exclaim "Oh my God, oh my God ... oh Lord" when confronted? I suspect it was out of surprise for having been caught, rather than anger over being spied upon. Maybe I'm wrong, but I doubt it.

Further, just because someone says "Look at this e-mail I received, and guess who it is from," doesn't mean they should be at the center of the story. The story shouldn't be who received the e-mail, but who sent it. Personally, I am sick and tired of reporters trying to be the center of a news story.

Finally, I don't have Sunflower Broadband, so no need for you to lose sleep from worrying about the safety of my account. Peace, Bea

Sigmund 7 years, 7 months ago

Butt Beatrice, he exclaimed because he was embarrassed that something meant to be private was inadvertently exposed. I suspect there are currently or recently in your Inbox that even you might find embarrassing. Just because a joke involves a blacks doesn't make it racist and just because a email contains the image of naked breasts, doesn't make it pornography no matter how you Haley and Chad attempt to spin it. That at least has been settled.

But please keep this up, you are proving my point that this defamation by the LJWorld has been injurious. The only questions left for the Court will be did Ms Harrison and Mr. Lawhorn have actual malice when they contrived this libvel, was the World Company negligent in supervising their employees, and what amount of dollars will compensate Mr Vestal and punish the World Company for their lapse of ethics and standards.

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 7 years, 7 months ago

Sigmund:

There will be no lawsuit. He sent the email. The email contained an image of at least a partially nude woman and a statement some could construe as derogatory towards people of color.

A jury, particularly in Lawrence would have many of the same kind of people who have debated whether or not this email was pornographic and racist on this forum.

And as I believe you pointed out above, this second article misrepresents the content of this forum. By any honest tally, i.e. one not summarized by the JW, the paper has received far more of a black eye in this matter than has the mayor. He fessed up, apologized and was truthful in all ways. His integrity, if not his common sense, or computer skills, has been demonstrated for all to see.

The JW, on the other hand, has received a black eye for the propagandistic nature of their reporting and Ms. Harrison's prudish vindictiveness. Who are the winners and losers here? Is anyone, on any side of this issue, holding these two articles and the TV broadcast out as an example of honest, ethical journalism? I don't think so.

If anything, the mayor's political fortunes have been enhanced by his honesty, while the JW comes out smelling like the cesspool they tried to drag the mayor through. Does anyone here, regardless of how you interpret the emails, disagree with that analysis? If so, I'd certainly love to see your argument.

matahari 7 years, 7 months ago

As a public figure anyone has to be prepared for a little (bad?) publicity, you give up a certain amount of privacy once you go public...but, as history has shown, not all bad publicity is bad...

ditto on the over eager young chumps the JW teams up with and calls good journalists...where WAS her proofreader/boss/overseer? They should have caught this blunder before it hit the stands.

Since what the JW calls news is no news at all, just rumors and overenthusastic reporting

oldgoof 7 years, 7 months ago

The Goof must be dreaming.... he agrees with Sigmund, Hawkperched, and Ulrick all at the same time.

deerhunter 7 years, 7 months ago

OK for those that think sunflower broadband has the time or concern to monitor every e-mail that is sent or received you are mistaken. I work for sunflower and know for a fact that we do no such thing. That would mean that every person in lawrence and surounding areas would have to work at sunflower just to monitor a 1/2 days worth of e-mails that are sent and received. And how did sunflower get dragged into the mudd? Sunflower doesn't even work in the same buildings or even associate with ljworld or its employee's, same owner totaly diffrent mannagment. And evidently you guys must all manage both companies because you all sound like expertson the subject or you are just as slanderouse as the people that wrote the article.

GROW UP!!!. Find a new hobbie besides b!@ching about every little thing that stirs your pot.

Snoop 7 years, 7 months ago

My first reaction after reading the story after having it pointed out to me was, ah crap another racist redneck elected official doing something stupid and showing his true colors. But Mayor Buffalo Butt is unfortunately the norm. At first I was like I hope the fat bastard gets kicked out of office, but then again hell if you live in Tongie you people engage in sharing pictures of tits and cracking racist jokes because hell y'all don't have to live near any darkies. Look at this dude, jacking off to pictures of hillbilly chicks, flying the Confederate flag and telling N-word jokes is daily fun. I'm more intrigued by the support given by the peeps. Crass racist undignified behavior even by our elected officials is celebrated who cares if he embarrasses himself and his constituents.

The majority of you are correct; this goes on all the time in offices across America, the fact that circulating racist, race baiting sexist e-mails are no big deal is the real issue.

It's obvious the people of Tongi deserves an overweight, racist, sexist pig, how else could dude be mayor. This dude and NOLA's Mayor Ray "Chocolate City" Nagin should hook-up for a few drinks.

Trouble 7 years, 7 months ago

Snoop, You do not know what you are talking about. I live in Tongie and we do not sit around cracking racist jokes and sharing pictures of tits and we do have a lot of African America that live here in Tongie. You are the one that sounds like a racist. Tongie is a great place to live and bring up your family. Mayor Vestal is not a racist. It was just a joke. Jokes are usually going to offend someone or something. Get over it already.

gerbilsniper 7 years, 7 months ago

while the ljworld considers this news they failed to mention that a wonderful person and recent ku grad lost her life in a car wreck on I70 outside of town two days ago. instead of going on a witch hunt...try some real journalism and maybe mention that there are good people out there.

Sigmund 7 years, 7 months ago

Uhlrick I think you underestimate the motivation and eneregy of the Kansas Plaintiff Bar working on contingency when it comes to defendants with deep pockets. What was sent could hardly be construed as "racist pornography" except by a couple of reporters with actual malice. Nobody from the email list, male or female, complained except a Channel 6 reporterette who conveniently goes unmentioned in subsequent articles by LJWorld reporters. That doesn't pass the laugh or the smell test.

Accusing a public official of a crime (distributing pornography) is hardly a innocent mistake. If the email doesn't even come close to "racist pornography" to a trier of fact and Haley and Chad actions over the preceding week can be fairly construed as actual malice, there could easily be a demand letter and subsequent filing if not settled. If nothing else I would want to subpoena the emails between them to determine their objectivity, or lack their of, and their state of mind. And if those emails suddenly go missing, all the better. Their absence under the rules of evidence and under these circumstance allows plaintiffs counsel to have the Court find actual malice in their absence!

But you are right, Mr. Vestal seems willing to forget and forgive and for all of my criticism of Dolph Simons, Jr. he has allowed me and others to to pound him, his management team, and employees fairly unmercifully over the last couple of days. That shows real character and class. I have had a lot of respect in the past for him and the World Company and that is why I am pretty disappointed.

So I do have hope that they can find a way to at the very least offer a "non-apology apology." You know, the "In the heat of the moment our employees may have made a mistake or two and we would like to correct the record and are committed to the highest standards of journalistic standards, blah blah blah" sort of thing.

I still wouldn't trust my personal email account to any local provider, not that I receive tons of "racist pornography" mind you. Lawrence is a very small town when it comes down to it, and like most people, I don't cherish the thought my private and personal email being available to some pimply geek who is bored with his own life and has no problems "window peeking." Especially when he works for a Company that to date has shown such an appalling lack of ethics, standards, and basic decency as Haley, Chad, and Shwn have demonstrated over the last couple of days.

But hey, I'm funny that way.

Godot 7 years, 7 months ago

The idiots in this issue are Lawhorn and the JW editorial board (that assumes there is one). Running this article should be considered a firing offense for those involved.

I hope the Mayor sues JW over this.

Sigmund 7 years, 7 months ago

Godot, what do you bet people have been offered "voluntary termination" or "strategic reassignment" for far far less breaches?

oldgoof 7 years, 7 months ago

The goof just thinks he heard channel 9 say the mayor is going to resign. Guess that makes for another day of page one articles, if true. .. This is what goof calls a "drive-by" news reporting....all too frequent. The reporter(s) throw a molotov cocktail out the car window creating the story, file a story, drive around the block, observe the aftermath and file another story.
. There is too much of this done in a figurative sense too, by setting up two people to take opposite sides of any issue. They create a conflict and story by just making a couple of phone calls.

deerhunter 7 years, 7 months ago

Devildog i guess you cant understand plain text because all i was stating is that sunflower had no connection to the ljworld article, the guy sent it to the new paper, no one was snooping around in anyones e-mail. I have not seen any facts stating that a sunflower employee sent the info to the ljworld so dont jump in the middle of a conversation that you dont have the facts on. And its not hypocritical to have a opinion of a bunch of crybabies who spend there whole night worrying about what other crybabies think. I just started a acount today to set the facts strait that sunflower and the ljworld are managed sepratly all the owner does is sit back and collect the paycheck and all the heat.
So go back and read the whole thing before you join in with cryfest. boohoo.

mike_vestal 7 years, 7 months ago

From The Mayor of Tonganoxie;

Just for the Record; Due to the outporing support in my favor that I received from citizens of my great city as well as calls from surrounding communities.. I AM NOT RESIGNING !!!!!!!

Thank You Mike Vestal

deerhunter 7 years, 7 months ago

and for the record i could care less what anyone think of the "wonderfull" ljworld it's not like it pays my paycheck.

deerhunter 7 years, 7 months ago

How in the world did you go from a big mistake that the mayor made, to putting down sunflower. He was the one who sent the email to the reporter....not sunflower! I don't think he should resign, but he is the one who chose the public spot light.....he should be more careful!

budwhysir 7 years, 7 months ago

Sure I would keep my job too. I mean who would want to go look for another one. Jokes now a days, I remember when the simple ones didnt get ya in trouble.

deerhunter 7 years, 7 months ago

Ok, obviously you don't understand the cable network. So, I guess your really the one who doesn't get it. It's funny to me, when someone acts as though the know everything, when in truth your just some "person" pointing fingers at Whom? Yes, I was offended when you or whomever started putting down Sunflower employees. The amount of data transfered through our servers is beyond your comprehention, if you truly knew then you would never had made such an accusation. To question the ethics of an entire company's employees is wrong. You must think the mayor was in the right, or you wouldn't shift the focus on employees of a company that "could have" done something, that could never be done. Yes, the reporter screwed up, how is that the cable man's fault?

deerhunter 7 years, 7 months ago

you have proved my point, your just a moron with the abbility to type. GOOD JOBB!!!

deerhunter 7 years, 7 months ago

Well, since your down to picking on my typing skills, I guess I'll call it a night. It's almost Monday and I have to prove my allegence to sunflower ((no wait)) - THE WORLD COMPANY! Hahaha Good night!

Sigmund 7 years, 7 months ago

Beatrice, I am tired of answering your same questions over and over. But one last time as you seem particularly dense. No, I do NOT think that a e-mail joke suggesting that something as silly as boobies is "better" than any holiday including Easter would be widely seen as anti-Christian, just plain silly the original intent. Even if they did no one would care, Christian bashing is all the vogue these days.

Go look at the greeting card isle in any grocery store, I am quite sure there are dozens of cards there, including ones with pictures of buxom women and characterizations of various races, that will offend your all too sensitive nature and knot your panties.

Is it possible someone would be offended? Yep it is possible, there are hyper-ventilating, hyper-sensitive, self important folks just looking to be offended with little else more important in their little world to concern themselves with than judging everyone else's faults. You, Haley Harrison (unnamed reporterette), and Chad Lawhorn are living breathing proof of three!

Do the vast majority (or even the other recipients of this e-mail) agree with you? Just reread the comments here, and the original story and the comments there, to see how "serious" most people with lives take this shining piece of tabloid journalism. I think it is safe to say it is your, Haley Harrison's, Chad Lawhorn's, and now the anonymous headline writer's views that are the ones out of the mainstream, not me. But given your history here, that is hardly surprising.

I haven't smoked dope in years, but after answering dozens of your absurd hypotheticals involving my mother, daughter, wife, girlfriend, Rosa Parks, Mother Teresa, baby Jesus, the Klu Klux Klan, NAACP, and the SPCA, and answering all them consistently, clearly, and emphatically, that fact that you still do not believe my answers,-- well I must say I am tempted to take up smoking dope once again.

As it appears you have no additional points worth making, only never ending hypotheticals with changing characters, I see little point in continuing to respond to you. In lawyer speak, "asked and answered." But at least you seem to agree that the whoever wrote the "pornographic" headline was way out of line and should apologize.

But enough about me what about you? After defaming a quadriplegic mayor of a small town and running him out of office for this single innocuous misstep (most people have told an off color joke in their lives, even politicians you agree with and of a color you approve) what is next for you? Whatever it is I hope is serves to replace this obsession you seem to have with me, my personal life, my beliefs, and what or what I wouldn't do in the most absurd of circumstances.

beatrice 7 years, 7 months ago

Well, that was a first. Mayor Vestal actually wrote me an e-mail apologizing for the incident -- not that I received the original e-mail or was personally offended by it myself -- and stated his desire to move on. I say good for him, lessons learned, and I wish him the best in the future.

Eileen Jones 7 years, 7 months ago

Godot (Anonymous) says: I hope the Mayor sues JW over this.

On what legal grounds?

I think the mayor acted poorly but the reaction over this email was too much. Still, your post is ridiculous.

Sigmund 7 years, 7 months ago

On what legal grounds? Defamation. The Press does not have an absolute privilege to say anything it wishes and is not is not immune from prosecution even when the victim is a public figure or elected official. The original article accused him of distributing pornography via email, a crime. If that claim is false and the LJWorld employees knew, or should have known it was false, that shows actual malice and the major will prevail.

But you will say, whose definition of "pornography" will be used? In my opinion that is a question for the trier of fact (jury or judge) and given Lawrence's liberal bench and jury pool, and given the description of the material, neither of those groups will find it was "pornographic." Well you might further ask, should Haley and Chad be expected know what is pornographic or not? In short, yes else they shouldn't have written it and published it. They had a week between receipt and publication, plenty of time to get a legal opinion of the material, their article, or both.

Much like Godot, I wish the Mayor would quit writing emails to posters, contact a large Kansas City law firm (50-100 attorneys) specializing in plaintiff claims, and allow them to handle this issue legally along with the surrounding public relations. He doesn't appear to have the where with all, especially under these circumstances, to properly deal with this fiasco.

Sigmund 7 years, 7 months ago

Oh, forget to add. He should not use his sunflower.com email account in doing that.

a_flock_of_jayhawks 7 years, 7 months ago

Sig, you are way off base. First off, if the media had not reported it, people would have been screaming "where's the media?" or "LJW coverup? They must be in bed with the mayor", especially since they received the e-mail. And there would have likely been a lot of hand-wringing over what else the LJW chooses not to report.

You assert that the 6news person that received the e-mail was offended. How do you know she was offended? You don't. He's the one that sent it, not her. She's a reporter and was doing her job. Then, you scream lawsuit? Ludicrous! Not a single lawyer worth their salt would touch that. More than likely, they would be advising them not to take it to court. The LJW probably has plenty of lawyers to dispose of the matter quickly. If you truly disagree, I would tell you to put your money where your mouth is and "bring it". They would chew you up and spit you out in a heartbeat.

I'm sure that Mr. Vestal is a fine man and doing a great job. As a former holder of elected office (uncompensated), I know personally what a sacrifice it is. I applaud him for having the gumption to serve the public. He has surely handled this situation admirably.

That being said, I have a friend who works for the courts (not DG CO) who forwarded a similar e-mail and was taken to the woodshed over it. He almost lost his job. It sets a poor example for those workers to be punished for it while the administrators who oversee them in one form or another are not held to at least the same standard. Folks, that's why this is news! I can't believe how many people here do not get that. Yes, he used his own e-mail account (good), probably on his own time (OK, good there), but it is associated with his official capacity. That's where there's a problem. Is he subject to the same policy that he oversees? If we don't like the standard/law, are we just supposed to ignore it? What kind of example does that set, especially from the Mayor? What if something that is personal to you were substituted for MLK Day in the joke? Would that be OK by you? Would you "get" the joke at your expense? If you didn't, would it be OK if everyone just said "F U" as if your thoughts and feelings don't matter?

I guess if you don't like the message, then it's OK to torture, hang, draw, and quarter the messenger. The "barrage" of criticism heaped on the LJW by this bunch is unbelievable. You even go as far as to say that the reporters should be personally monitored somehow. Whoa, pardner! We have a protected free press in this country that serves a very important public service. Surely, you are not suggesting that they should be intimidated into writing or not writing a particular item. If you are, then why waste any more time. Lock them up, close the paper down, and get the gov't to come in and give the people the info they "really need". Who needs all of those pesky little stories about the government, anyway?

Unbelievable.

hawk_of_ages 7 years, 7 months ago

Could not agree more, Flock.

The mayor does seem to be handling this well, and if Tonganoxie decides this incident is not a firing offense, good for them.

But the ugliness on these threads towards reporters -- who are only doing their jobs -- is unbelievable. The mayor knows what he did was wrong -- he admitted it and apologized. It's newsworthy because he's an elected official. If you can't stand the heat etc...

The outpouring of support for Vestal is admirable, but on this thread and the one yesterday it has become an ugly cyber lynch mob against the reporters. The name-calling, childishness, and downright sexism (reporterette?) is out of control. I mean, do you guys really believe all these conspiracy theories you spew out, or is this just sort of an amusing pastime for you?

Sigmund 7 years, 7 months ago

A_Flock, I have no problem with the media doing their job, but I doubt even you wants the press to be able to print any untruth they want. Characterization of the email as pornography, if it wasn't, is defamation pure and simple and malicious libel is not allowed even of public officials

Vestal sent this email from his own personal account, his computer, and his internet connection. If reporterette Haley Harrison wasn't offended by this personal email, why didn't she simply delete it? I do it all the time and I suspect you do as well.

I know people who have been fired for having porn or forwarding porn on company owned computers and I agree with that policy. But in the present case no City owned equipment was used and therefore the City has no say in the matter and reporterette Harrison knew that. So why did Haley Harrison allow Chad Lawhorn to write and article which said it was pornography if she wasn't offended? Why was her name kept out of all the LJWorld stories if she thought the story was so newsworthy?

I hoped I answered your questions and I have one for you. If the LJWorld, Haley Harrison, and Chad Lawhorn breaks the law, shouldn't they too be punished??

a_flock_of_jayhawks 7 years, 7 months ago

Sig says: "I know people who have been fired for having porn or forwarding porn on company owned computers and I agree with that policy. But in the present case no City owned equipment was used and therefore the City has no say in the matter and reporterette Harrison knew that. So why did Haley Harrison allow Chad Lawhorn to write and article which said it was pornography if she wasn't offended? Why was her name kept out of all the LJWorld stories if she thought the story was so newsworthy?"

The larger of the two problems, in this instance, is that it is material that is objectionable to some people and that he is now associated with it. Although it is a smaller problem, the fact that he has formally associated his e-mail address with official city business creates the administrative problem, whether he used city-owned equipment or systems or not. He made a mistake that I'm sure he is now painfully aware of.

"I hoped I answered your questions and I have one for you. If the LJWorld, Haley Harrison, and Chad Lawhorn breaks the law, shouldn't they too be punished??"

IMO, I think you are trying way too hard to exact some revenge. If they break the law, sure they should be punished. Hence, all the LJW lawyers. There's always going to be the company, individual, or group that wishes to take the reporting media to task for something reported about them that they don't like. But, you have to be careful here, and the courts generally are very careful in these instances. There's usually a higher bar since reporting news is their job and the free press is protected.

Elected officials, at least those planning to stay in office, normally avoid getting into protracted struggles with the media. The pen is indeed mightier than the sword, and they buy ink by the barrel! I had already heard and understood that before I took office, but I had another elected colleague remind me of that early in my tenure.

hawk_of_ages 7 years, 7 months ago

LJW broke the law?

While it may have been over the top to call this picture pornography (don't know, haven't seen it), it doesn't even come close to passing the smell test for libel. How could you prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that a picture of a naked woman passed around for amusement is absolutely, positively NOT pornography? And how on earth would you intend to prove malice? The burden in these cases is always on those wishing to abridge free speech (that would be you, by suing the newspaper) and in this case you'd be trying to nail them for reporting something that the mayor himself admits is a TRUE FACT!

The mayor sent an inappropriate email from what is, in point of fact, his official account (i.e. the one he uses for mayoral business). He admitted what he did was wrong, and quite graciously apologized. It looks as if he will be able to keep his job, and all credit to him for being forthright in his response. It's only certain sexist neanderthals on this thread ("reporterette," indeed) who want him to drag this sordid story out.

Sigmund 7 years, 7 months ago

A_Flock then we are not so far apart. Just to clarify, I have no grudge against the LJWorld, in fact a review of my over two years of post will show far more in praise of their efforts. Although I can't say the same of Sunflower Cablevision nor Sunflower Broadband, I really don't think my dislike of those products is somehow impacting my thoughts here.

And while I do agree with you that it is a bad idea to get in a fight with a person who buys newsprint by the railroad car (or bandwidth by the T3 for that matter), that just underscores their power. As a result I like most Americans expect the press to be responsible in their reporting, which leads me to the present case.

Had the original story read "Mayor Vestal inadvertently sent Channel 6 on air personality Haley Harrison a crude email about "National Breast Appreciation Week." Although Mayor Vestal has made repeated attempts to apologize, she has refused those phone calls and will not talk with him", I wouldn't have a problem other than wondering how this deserved mention.

That is far different from passing this story off to Chad Lawhorn who writes the Mayor is sending pornography via email and fails to mention reporterette Harrisons part in all of this. I do have a real problem with that. It appears to me Chad Lawhorn and Halie Harrison went out of their way to trump up this story accusing the Mayor of a crime, and before excuse their behavior as an accident and that they should be forgiven, Mr. Vestal's action was an accident shouldn't non-journalists be given the same consideration?

The consequences of Chad Lawhorn's and Haley Harrison's actions are far more damaging than the original act they wrote about. So I have to ask myself, was it actual malice on their part that they called the email "pornography" because if it was that is one of the few times that such misconduct by the press can be punished. As you correctly noted the courts have given the press great freedom up to a point and this is exactly the point where they can be held accountable, actual intended malice.

I think the "error" was actual malice and intended by Lawhorn and Harrison to damage him, you don't. That is what juries are for. And if you are going to sue the LJWorld and its reporters it is best to get a Law firm that can match the World Company dollar for dollar and lawyer for lawyer. A large plaintiff's firm working on contingency from KC is exactly what you want. If the mayor has a case they will eagerly take it. If they think it is of no merit they will say so. My advice remains, Mr. Vestal should contact such a firm and allow them to handle the issue from here.

Sigmund 7 years, 7 months ago

Accusing a person in print of committing a crime if not true (distributing pornography for instance) is libel and easily passes the laugh and the smell test.

Sigmund 7 years, 7 months ago

BTW, if calling this email "pornographic" was merely "over the top" why did they change the headline. Below is a link to the original story: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2007/sep...

That link is cut off ..., but if you click it and look at the URL it reads, in relevant part: "/news/2007/sep/08/tonganoxie_mayor_admits_sending_pornographic_email/"

If this is just much ado about nothing, why suddenly change the headline to "risque"? Everyone know a sensationalistic tabloid headline is better with pornographic than risque in it. No one cares about risque today. Or did they realize, too late, that they couldn't support their criminal allegations?

hawk_of_ages 7 years, 7 months ago

Again, the "pornographic" characterization MAY have been an overstatement, but libelous? What a joke.

No one "trumped up the story" or "accused the mayor of a crime." There is absolutely no basis that I see for proving malicious falsehood, unless you've got some evidence that you aren't telling us about. The mayor admitted the truth of the story as reported. Question the news judgment if you want, defend the mayor if you want, but the bizarre conspiracy theories here are all hot air.

hawk_of_ages 7 years, 7 months ago

If they decided the "pornographic" description was "over the top," then it stands to reason they would revise it. But if they were really concerned about legal ramifications, wouldn't they have taken the time to change the URL that you claim is a legal smoking gun?

Sigmund 7 years, 7 months ago

He admitted only to sending an inappropriate email, not distributing "racist pornography." You may not see a difference, or care about your reputation, or even what people say about you in print. For all I know you may even proudly proclaim to all your family and friends that you send racist pornographic email. Others feel differently and far from seeing such accusations as a joke take such things quite seriously. Anywho, thanks for the lively discussion.

hawk_of_ages 7 years, 7 months ago

Hmm, a picture of a naked woman accompanied by a derogatory reference to MLK Day.

Is that an example of "racist pornography?" Seems like a matter of opinion, but it's certainly close enough to absolve the writer of "malicious falsehood" charges.

Sigmund 7 years, 7 months ago

Not a smoking gun at all, it just goes to the state of mind. They changed the headline realizing it was more than simply "over the top" it comes very close if not crosses the line. The fact that the original URL remained unchanged is irrelevant as a look at their server logs, or an audit of their publishing software would show the original headline. I was only supporting my claim that the headline changed and pointing out a reasonable inference as to why. Worry about legal liability.

Why do you think they changed the headline? While I am at it, why do you think Vestal's attempts to contact and apologize to Haley Harrison and even Haley Harrison herself is not mentioned in the original story or even the follow up? Just curious ....

a_flock_of_jayhawks 7 years, 7 months ago

Obscenity is the legal issue. Whether something is pornographic or not is in the hands of each and every individual to decide. Whether something is pornographic and obscene is the test. The SCOTUS 3-part obscenity test guidelines are: (a) whether "the average person, applying contemporary community standards" would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest, (b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law; and (c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value."

All three parts must be met.

I haven't seen the picture(s), but they probably had second thoughts about labeling it pornography, since it is subjective, as has been pointed out to a limited extent in this forum. A little late and awkward, but not illegal, injurious, or incorrect, for that matter. The only injury appears to have been self-inflicted via e-mail client. If anything, it appears that LJW exercised some prudence and caution in revising it to that end.

Sigmund 7 years, 7 months ago

Do you think the email as described is "racist" or "pornography?" Is every joke involving a black or every picture of naked breast pornography? Or does the combination of a black AND breasts make it racist pornography? I am not trying to start a fight, in fact just the opposite really. There just isn't much to this story without those two sensationalistic emotionally charged phrases.

Like I said, without those two phrases there just isn't much of a story here, let alone red banner breaking news which is how it was released. I'm trying to figure out if it was just sensationalist tabloid journalism or were they out to defame this guy? I can forgive the former, not the latter.

hawk_of_ages 7 years, 7 months ago

I would think they/d want to keep their reporter out of the story if possible. It's about what the mayor did, not the reporter.

But she is mentioned in the follow-up! Vestal's post ID'ing her is right there in this story. I don't understand what the purported coverup is supposed to be here.

werekoala 7 years, 7 months ago

I've heard the World Company beating this poor dead horse for several days now, and I just have to say:

  • Yes, it was unprofessional for a city administrator to send this email to anyone from his city account.
  • Yes, it was doubly stupid for him to send it to a reporter, even accidentally.

However:

1) While some might consider the sight of any unclothed woman not your wife to be pornographic, the picture involved doesn't sound to be any worse than what can be seen in American Pie or any of the thousands of other teen comedies that get released every year without anyone calling them pornography. Sure it's not professional, but it's not like he was sending out graphic videos of transvestite amputees or whatever.

2) I really, really, really, really HATE the idea that this could possibly be considered a racist joke. Unfunny? Sure. Old & busted? Absolutely. But whatever humor is to be derived from this joke has absolutely NOTHING to do with disrespectful stereotypes of black people. It has to do with the fact that, like it or not, there are no real time-honored social traditions that have sprung up as a way to memorialize Dr. King. We have Christmas trees, Thanksgiving turkeys, Halloween trick-or-treating, and St. Patrick's Day binge drinking.

To me, the joke is just as funny (or not) if you replaced "Martin Luther King Day" with Arbor Day, Columbus Day, or Boxing Day. It has nothing to do with disrespecting black people, and everything to do with "Hy-yuk - I sure like boobies better than holidays no one really knows how to celebrate!"

But of course, once the chattering classes get all a-twitter, the poor guy (isn't he quadraplegic for goodness sake?) is instantly and permanently branded a racist.

It reminds me of the sports commentator who remarked that given how much negative publicity was given to Michael Vick for dogfighting, compared to how much is usually given to athletes accused of rape, he'd have been better treated by the media if he was a rapist. Note that nothing in his statement approved of or condoned sexual assault on women, it actually deplored the lack of attention it is typically given. Doesn't matter, once the professional victims heard that, they were out for blood, and got him fired for promoting rape.

It's ridiculous in both cases, and demeans those who have actually experienced true racism or sexual violence.

Sigmund 7 years, 7 months ago

Ooops, you answer before asked and I agreed on the SCOTUS test for obscenity. I guess the LJWorld gets to call most every tawdry e-mail "racist pornography" on the barest (pun intended) evidence of every slightly off color (pun intended) joke.

Still, there is little doubt that if a private citizen were accused of sending racist pornography and a court found it wasn't even close they would be found to have committed liable. With public officials "actual malice" is also required. A trier of fact could infer "actual malice" in Chad Lawhorn's and Haley Harrison's actions, and failures to act. In fact, without their malice I can't see this story even being printed.

I can only hope that they make a momentary misjudgment and are similarly publicly crucified. Karma can be a bitch.

hawk_of_ages 7 years, 7 months ago

Look, I believe Vestal when he says he is not a racist, but a reasonable person could infer that the MLK Day reference in the email is exactly that. Werekoala, you make that point in spite of yourself: If the joke means what you say it does, then why don't they refer to, as you say, Arbor Day, Columbus Day, or whatever? The point is, they chose a holiday considered sacred specifically by the African-American community.

Would I describe it as pornographic? Probably not, as described. But again, it's close enough that we can put the ridiculous libel talk to rest.

The story will probably go away pretty quickly, since his constituents don't seem too bothered by it. But to call it libelous (as in, legally actionable) just because you disagree with its characterization of the email is, in a word, insane.

Sigmund 7 years, 7 months ago

Differences of opinions from yours are not necessarily insane, and I do believe a prima facie case for defamation including actual malice exists. If you think that a jury of liberal Lawrence residents would return a finding that the email, as described, was pornographic, well I would disagree. Whether or not that same jury would find that implying something might be better than MLK Day was a racist statement, I am also not so sure.

What I do know is wrongfully accusing someone of sending "racist pornography" is defamation and libel. The only element that I believe is questionable proving "actual malice" on the part of Chad Lawhorn and Haley Harrison. Who knows what an aggressive discovery order and deposition would uncover?

a_flock_of_jayhawks 7 years, 7 months ago

Although the first LJW article on the topic mentioned racist, Mayor Vestal admitted it. The policy that he oversees states "construed", and I'm sure that there are many people of all backgrounds that would have construed the MLK Day reference as racist. And, with the description of the photo, there are people that would call the picture pornography. There are people that send risque material as a way of initiating a relationship, and that would make people, especially women given the content in this case and the fact that it is someone in a position of influence, uncomfortable. I'm not saying that was his intent, but someone sure could have felt that way.

Sigmund 7 years, 7 months ago

Your last point is a good one and I believe the whole reason, even if unstated, the article was written in the first place. That would at least explain why Ms Harrison, who is central to this whole story, remains unmentioned and would also explain the vicious and hysterical overstatements (to say the least) of the facts. Like many have pointed out, without those two characterizations of the email, there isn't much of a story here beyond mere gossip. Maybe the LJWorld could start a gossip column and Chad Lawhorn could write it and Haley Harrison could edit it?

I do not believe that Vestal or anyone involved here believes that stating a nice pair of breasts are "better" than MLK Day is racist, at least anymore than stating they are better than Memorial Day is anti-Veteran, or better than Christmas Day would be anti-Christian. It is simply is too much of a stretch.

Being embarrassed by the release of the material, Vestal's excited utterances, as described in the article, do not imply he thought they were racist but extreme embarrassment by the release of a personal email and an acknowledgment that in these hyper-sensitive PC times that if spun correctly in the press, by Chad Lawhorn and Haley Harrison for instance, some people might be convinced to see it that way.

beatrice 7 years, 7 months ago

Sigboy, you are officially obsessing at this point. It was a naughty joke of questionable sensitivity, for which Vestal was embarrased and appologized. His town reacted with an apparent and deserved shrug of its collective shoulders, and all have moved on, butt you.

Simple, honest questions for you: Would you feel comfortable handing a printed copy of this joke to Mother Theresa and Rosa Parks (imagining them alive, of course)? If not, why not? (Honesty will at least direct you toward why some might find the joke offensive)

Secondly, do you believe this joke would get a bigger laugh at a Klan meeting, or a meeting of the NAACP? If you picked Klan meeting, why? (Again, an honest gut-check on this one will also point to the questionable racial issue at play here -- since the joke doesn't say Christmas, or President's day, or any of all of the rest of the many holidays not specifically named in honor of an African American.)

As far as a conspiracy goes -- you don't need to be Woodward and Bernstein to know that if a mayor accidentaly forwards a reporter an e-mail of a questionable nature, the reporter might just report about it. Dolph isn't hiding behind the grassy knoll, and there really wasn't a second, unknown e-mailer. It is time to let it go.

Maybe you should spend some time on a true conspiracy, like who really let the dogs out?

mommy3 7 years, 7 months ago

Hey, I saw channel 9 news at Tonganoxie city hall tonight........is it about Vestal?

a_flock_of_jayhawks 7 years, 7 months ago

Sig says: "Being embarrassed by the release of the material, Vestal's excited utterances, as described in the article, do not imply he thought they were racist but extreme embarrassment by the release of a personal email and an acknowledgment that in these hyper-sensitive PC times that if spun correctly in the press, by Chad Lawhorn and Haley Harrison for instance, some people might be convinced to see it that way."

Now you are trying to get in Mayor Vestal's head and put words in his mouth. He apologized. I don't think he'll be suing anyone over this. You can say what you please about the MLK Day reference in the e-mail, but I sure don't see it as a stretch. Now, I guess Mayor Vestal did not create the content, but it sounds like he approved of it enough to pass it along. So much, in spite of the fact that he usually doesn't do that sort of thing. Add a purported cockpit error to the mix and here we are.

Sigmund 7 years, 7 months ago

Beatirce, at the risk of "obsessing" if I answer, or in the alternative, withering under your fierce examination if I don't, forgive me if I deal with your questions in order.

Nope, I wouldn't feel comfortable intentionally handing either Mother Teresa nor Rosa Parks a copy of this joke, and I would be quite embarrassed if I accidentally sent it to them. I would attempt to apologize profusely (and do penance with respect to the former) which is much closer to the case here. But neither would I expect them to print such an unfair article in the Catholic Register or the NAACP Monthly labeling me as sending them racist pornography.

To the extent that the NAACP and the Klan are composed of men and women, I would expect it would get about the same number of laughs, although I hasten to add that NOT being a member of either I can only guess. What is your expert opinion? Are you implying that every man or women that find such jokes amusing are all racist sexists? Not everything that is inappropriate is racial pornography.

I have said all along I would not have been bothered in the least with a fair and accurate story, though it is so unremarkable I might not have even bothered with it. But "Mayor Admits Sending Pornographic E-mail" is false characterization and drew a lot attention and readers who come to find it wasn't even close to being accurate.

And even though I didn't know Woodward nor Berstein, I think that I am safe in saying that Chad Lawhorn and Haley Harrison are no Woodward and Bernstein. I would bet those two Journalist heard much worse jokes from much higher profile politicians and I would also wager that Ben Bradley would have busted their chops had they even suggested such an overblown unfair exaggeration was front page news, "Congressman tells off color joke" is hardly a headline, nor breaking news material.

Unless of course your a vindictive on-air personality, who shall remain nameless, have an ax to grind, are filled with malice, your purpose is defamation, and you can convince someone else to do your dirty work for you.

As to who let the dogs out, I shall leave that to you and the SPCA.

Sigmund 7 years, 7 months ago

I am not getting into Vestal's head anymore than you are with your interpretations. But you are correct, Vestal's appears to be taking the high road in this sleazy business and is willing to forgive and forget. I only wish Chad Lawhorn and Haley Harrison had the decency to apologize for mischaracterization, especially the "pornographic" headline and give a more complete account of events. But I guess "journalist" are not to be held to the same standards, at least not in the press, as small town mayors. Shame really.

mommy3 7 years, 7 months ago

Did anyone see the news? he was on the 10:00 news, first ljworld, local abc affiliate, next Good morning America!! Haha

a_flock_of_jayhawks 7 years, 7 months ago

KC news outlets picked up the story as well as AP.

beatrice 7 years, 7 months ago

Sig, you really need to get out of Kansas more often.

One last try -- do you think a Christian, any Christian, might take offense if the joke had been passed around by someone non-Christian, a Muslim perhaps, and the ending to the punchline read "better than f-ing Easter"? If so, then don't you think it possible, even remotely possible, that someone who admires the accomplishments of Martin Luther King, Jr., might take umbrage to this silly joke, intended as racist or not?

To suggest that a male-fantasy holiday for boobies is better than the one and only holiday in this country that honors an African American has the potential to upset some people. It just does. You must truly live in a Pollyanna world if you can't see that. (In which case, put down the bong and quit listening to John Lennon's "Imagine." It would be nice to live in a world free of racism, but we aren't there yet.)

And most reporters don't write their own headlines. That is left to a copy editor.

I suspect you know all of this, and are still just upset because you first thought there was a real chance that the boobie holiday was for real.

hawk_of_ages 7 years, 7 months ago

Sigmund says: "Unless of course your a vindictive on-air personality, who shall remain nameless, have an ax to grind, are filled with malice, your purpose is defamation, and you can convince someone else to do your dirty work for you"...

I believe it's been established that none of these characterizations has any basis in fact. Yet you keep making them, SIgmund. Whereas the article you claim to be libelous is, by admission of the mayor himself, true. So who exactly is doing the slandering here?

beatrice 7 years, 7 months ago

Sig, I kept asking you absurd questions because I find it impossible to believe that a thinking person could actually lack the ability to comprehend how the "joke," being sent around by at least one white male, might be read as offensive, even in the smallest of degrees. It just boggles the mind that a human being can truly lack empathy for others to understand that.

But you are correct that I was a fool for saying something about the mayor's appearance. I based that on the photos, not on the facts. I had no idea about his being in a chair, and I do regret my comments. I've already pointed out my stupidity on that front, and really don't mind doing so again.

I also still find it very funny to see neocons coming to the defense here, when, in earlier circumstances, they have supported actions like the banning of breast feeding in public or the covering of partially nude statues of Lady Justice. Very funny, indeed.

Finally, take a second look at your many posts on this thread, and tell me again who has their panties in a wad? (retorical -- no need to actually respond)

Catch you next time, Bea

BlackVelvet 7 years, 7 months ago

Thanks, Bea,

Now we have to hear about his damn panties.................................

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