Hate speech consequences

Last Thursday, the Wilmington News Journal chose to publish a letter to the editor which included an offensive and sinophobic term for the coronavirus. While there is no excuse for publishing such hateful speech, the choice to do so came merely days after violent hate crimes against the Asian American community transpired in Atlanta.

While nicknaming the virus may seem like a harmless joke to some, the consequences are harmful and, as we witnessed last week, deadly. Last year alone, the United States saw a 150% increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans. Undoubtedly, as a result of misinformation on social media and political dog whistling.

Perpetuating falsehoods and hate lead to tragedies like we witnessed in Atlanta and countless other communities. Words matter. This rhetoric should not be given a platform.

I am immensely disappointed in our local newspaper for choosing to publish this letter. Since the original letter was published, the News Journal has since chosen to remove the offensive term and issue a brief “apology.” But this is too little too late. The “apology” felt anything but genuine.

Moving forward, it is my hope that the News Journal is more conscientious of what they are giving a platform to. There is a difference between attempting to be “fair and balanced” by publishing the views of both sides and recognizing when words can be harmful. Hate and misinformation have no place in our local newspaper.

Megan Borton

Wilmington

No hate speech platform

I was shocked and appalled that the News Journal chose to print the letter to the editor “Won’t be wearing a ‘stupid mask.’” I cannot believe the News Journal chose to post a letter that used a blatantly racist term for COVID-19 at any time, and especially less than 48 hours after several Asian people were killed in Georgia.

I do not understand the decision to amplify people who are voicing blatant racism at any time, especially now. Imagine being a member of our community who has been a victim of much of racist rhetoric that has been especially prevalent since the beginning of the pandemic only to see your local newspaper being a vessel for that vitriol to spread.

Local newspapers can serve such an important purpose in the community, but it should never be a place where hate speech is given a platform.

Tyler Williams

Wilmington

Editor’s Note regarding the above letters: I assure readers that the apology was genuine. My purpose in even allowing that term was to to show the thinking that is still so prevalent in the world, I routinely strive to practice inclusivity and fairness both in life and in the paper. But I certainly used bad judgment and was wrong in publishing that term. I genuinely apologize.