Goodloe Sutton of the Democrat-Reporter: Freedom of the Press is alive and well

Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune
By Maramis

Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune.

It is so hard for me to believe how ignorant some people can be in print—which is a lot worse than the ignorance they might show when speaking. Many of us may have blurted out, in anger or some other kind of emotion, words that we instantly regretted; but if we were able to immediately apologize in true humility, it is likely that the person in front of us would be willing to listen and likely even accept the apology, understanding the emotion behind the outburst.
Of course, some who blurt out cruel or unkind or even hateful words DO mean them, sad to say, and have no intention of apologizing, but to write such things (any things of such a deep racist nature) as the editor of a certain Alabama newspaper did, in his editorial, is hard to comprehend, even while we know he has the right to voice his opinion.
There is no question that Sutton wrote that editorial since he admitted it and it exists in physical form. I saw a photo of his newspaper online, showing that particular article.
This editor, Goodloe Sutton, wrote a most unbelievable editorial that called for the Ku Klux Klan “to night ride again” against Democrats who “are plotting to raise taxes” in the state.
The editorial, titled “Klan needs to ride again,” appeared in a Feb. 14 print edition of the Democrat-Reporter in Linden, a weekly newspaper covering Marengo County.
Mr. Sutton, both the editor and publisher of the newspaper, confirmed to several local media outlets that he did indeed write that editorial. An article about Goodloe Sutton stated that his wife, who passed away many years ago, used to be his editor; if she were still alive today, perhaps she would have advised him against publishing that editorial.
While Rolando Larraz, the publisher and editor in chief of this publication, and I may not always see eye-to-eye, and he is certainly free to express his own thoughts, as am I, I don’t have to worry that he would ever try to slip in an editorial of that nature. First of all, I can’t believe he would ever have those feelings, and secondly, I would get to see it before it gets published and would never let that get by me—not because I would be censoring him, but as managing editor of the Las Vegas Tribune, I always have the best interests of the Tribune and of Rolando in mind. But as I said, I can’t believe Rolando would ever have those thoughts. And further, even more than that, the editorial in the Las Vegas Tribune is not left specifically to one person to write — as is the case with the editorial written by Goodloe Sutton, which is always a one-person-kind-of-opinion while our editorials are often a compilation of thoughts of several of those
here at the Las Vegas Tribune, even if everyone does not agree entirely. But no matter who writes it, it will never advocate hate or violence, or racism, such as the following quote from that editor under question: “If we could get the Klan to go up there and clean out D.C., we’d all been better off,” he told the Montgomery Advertiser. “We’ll get the hemp ropes out, loop them over a tall limb and hang all of them.” Can anyone believe an editor in today’s world would not only feel that way but actually put it in writing in his newspaper’s editorial?
The photo of that editorial as it appeared in Sutton’s paper, the Democrat-Reporter, as mentioned above, was posted online by Chip Brownlee, a journalist for the Alabama Political Reporter. He posted it because he felt that other people needed to see it as well.
While I did see many comments from several outraged readers, and some comments saying that he now needs to resign, such as this one from Alabama Senator Doug Jones: “OMG! What rock did this guy crawl out from under? This editorial is absolutely disgusting & he should resign -NOW,” Jones tweeted. “I have seen what happens when we stand by while people-especially those with influence- publish racist, hateful views.
Words matter. Actions matter. Resign now!” I also saw at least one that reminded us about something called Freedom of the Press. “The freedom of the press, protected by the First Amendment, is critical to a democracy in which the government is accountable to the people. A free media functions as a watchdog that can investigate and report on government wrongdoing. It is also a vibrant marketplace of ideas, a vehicle for ordinary citizens to express themselves and gain
exposure to a wide range of information and opinions.” —An uncredited statement found online.
That is a very important freedom, and whether we hate what someone says or not, they have the right to express their opinions. (See the quotation we have across the top of our front page, attributed to Voltaire.)
If Mr. Sutton still carries a Letters to the Editor section, readers can write him THEIR opinions of his opinion. Maybe they will be published. Rather than ganging up on Mr. Sutton to resign, we — or at least those who advertise in his paper or subscribe to his paper — can show their disdain for his opinions by no longer advertising in it or subscribing to it. We have freedom of the press for a very important reason, and we also have other freedoms that allow us to support or not support the views expressed by others… and things like this show us how — thank goodness — freedom of the press is still alive and well.
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Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at

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