'Raised and mentored by feral Communists'
We've had some complaints from readers about the letter to the editor Tuesday from Othelmo da Silva, where he says the president of the United States was "raised and mentored by feral Communists."
This is par for the course for da Silva, as many of our Opinions page readers know. I believe most people would call his word choice unnecessary, if not reprehensible, but was it inappropriate to publish?
Here's one comment. The email subject line was "I am not often outraged."
I read opinion pieces from not only the Post-Bulletin, but other newspapers and news sources in the US and Europe. I can honestly say I have never read anything anywhere about President Obama that describes his mother and grandparents as "feral Communists." I realize you cannot print most of what Othelmo has to say, probably, but this piece was beyond the pale if only for that phrase -- I am letting pass the rest of his piece since facts have never been a priority with da Silva. The scariest part is that he works in student support services at a post secondary educational institution in our community.
Mary Conboy Gorfine
Senior editorial writer Eric Atherton responded to another emailer with this note, in part:
Concerning the letter from Mr. da Silva in Tuesday's edition, we often print letters that we find distasteful but which do not cross the line into profanity or outright defamation. The "feral Communists" phrase is colorful and extreme, but does not meet our definition of hate speech.
I agree with Eric's call. Obama is the ultimate public figure and it's not defamatory to call the president a Commie, or to say he was raised by feral Commies. Readers can make their own judgment on da Silva's extreme language and point of view.