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Little Warren Makes Big News


Warren Pennsylvania is close to the Allegheny National Forest in the far northwest corner of the state. Erie is the closest “large” town. From Warren it's about the same distance to Cleveland as it is to Pittsburgh.

Like Texas, Pennsylvania has dozens of small hamlets and villages that most people have never heard of unless they are local to the area. For Warren that means near-by places have names like Hatchtown, Backup Corners, and Torpedo. The Texas equivalent would be Barwise, Turkey, or Muleshoe.

Warren County has just under nine hundred square miles of land. Philadelphia County, by comparison, has less  than one hundred and fifty square miles, or sixteen percent of Warren County’s land mass.

Warren County has fifty people living on each square mile: Philadelphia County has over ten thousand people per square mile. Warren County is over ninety eight percent white. Philadelphia County is more akin to what modern politicians call the “international community” when they are mad at a particular country, and they want it to get in line with the rest of the world, usually by stopping something. Think Iran and nuclear reactors buried underground. 

In late May, just a week or so ago, little Warren, PA made the news in a rather unusual way. The town newspaper, The Warren Times Observer, accepted and ran a classified advertisement that said, “ May Obama follow in the footsteps of Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, and Kennedy.” The  Associated Press ran a story on how the Times Observer was advocating the assassination of the President of the United States. The usual media feeding frenzy ensued. 

The town of Warren, the Times Observer, the Republican Party, the right-wing-gun-loving-church-going-anti everything crowd was widely and loudly condemned by far-flung pundits and self appointed keepers of the faith.  Bloviators were bloviating. What faith, you may ask? All faiths, I might respond. 

The Warren Times Observer’s publisher, John Eichert, said the paper’s advertising staff did not make the historical connection concerning the ads reference to each of our assassinated presidents and President Obama. This, Mr Eichert, is a little weak. It is indefensible. It is NOT okay.

So what is the proper way to both view and react to this? The view, I think, should be that this type of thing is not acceptable. It deserves to be condemned because it points to elements in our society that are willfully ignorant, genuinely hateful, and downright mean, nasty, unnecessary, and counter productive. It should not be accepted or condoned. Each of us has an obligation to speak out against hate and prejudice. Each of us has a duty to challenge those among us who display hate, and continue to do so after that person declares that they were “just kidding, just joking.” Each of us has a duty to denounce the words and hatreds we find in those around us; the more so the closer they are, the more so the better we know them.

We all want a better world. We all need to make it so each and every day.



Michael settle writes www.newnegotiator.com


9:22 AM
Thu Jun 11 2009
Dead on!

Couldn't have said it better myself! At the very least the people who run this newspaper should be put on notice.  I'm not advocating they shut the paper down, but if something like this happens again then the publication of the paper should be suspended and the people in charge, ousted.

1:42 PM
Thu Jun 11 2009
And add David Letterman to the hate-speakers list

Agree about challenging hateful, violent speech. That's why we should all protest David Letterman’s vile, misogynist “jokes” on national television about a 14 year-old girl being raped at a baseball game. There is no place in media for such threatening and dangerous speech against women and children.