About 70 protesters gathered outside The Oregonian on Monday morning to reprimand the newspaper for distributing an hourlong DVD, "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West," as paid advertising in its Sunday editions.
In a brief news conference, speakers characterized the DVD as Muslim-bashing propaganda promoting fear, hate and division.
"It is a moral obligation of a newspaper in a community to inform, not misinform," said the Rev. Chuck Cooper, director of ministries of Micah's Village, a progressive Christian community near Clackamas.
"Obsession" conflicts with Oregon values of equity, diversity and inclusion, said Kayse Jama, executive director of the Center for Intercultural Organizing in North Portland, which organized the demonstration with help from The Good Faith Coalitiom and other faith and human rights groups.
The Oregonian distributed the DVD because it has an obligation to make its advertising as open as possible under the principle of free speech, Publisher Fred Stickel said. Newspapers generally accept all advertising that is not illegal or blatantly immoral.
Anthony Lewis, former New York Times reporter and columnist and author of "Freedom for the Thought That We Hate: A Biography of the First Amendment," said his inclination would be to distribute the DVD for free speech reasons.
"There isn't a rule," he said. "But if it gets bad enough, you know you are not going to publish it. You look at the ad and decide what you are going to do."
Nationally, about 70 newspapers distributed "Obsession," sponsored by the nonprofit, New York-based Clarion Fund. A few newspapers declined to package the DVD.
"Obsession" features scholars, journalists and others describing Radical Islam as a worldwide terrorism movement committed to destroying Western culture.
About 500 people have called The Oregonian about the DVD; the vast majority opposed its distribution. "Very few" dropped their subscriptions, said Kevin Denny, The Oregonian's director of circulation.
If you look around, you'll see it's liberals and progressives doing the banning and censoring in America. (Photo credit: The Oregonian)