A certain paid advertisement has appeared in our pages that has raised both the eyebrows and the ire of some readers—not to mention those of us staffers who, it should be noted, only manage the editorial content of the Bohemian and Pacific Sun. We are not involved in determining what advertising, advertorials or other promotional materials appear in our publications. That said, we appreciate and acknowledge your justifiable concern and encourage you to keep the letters coming.
— Daedalus Howell, Editor
Page 3 of your Feb. 9–15 edition contains some uncanny unintentional (maybe?) irony. First there is Tom Tomorrow’s satirical “This Modern World” cartoon about the absurdities of internet-generated “misinformation” and lies. Right next to that is a paid advertisement from a chiropractor containing multiple examples of that very problem, primarily about COVID and vaccines.
As a longtime former Pacific Sun contributor and even longer-term public health specialist and ethicist, I urge you to be more judicious and responsible in what you choose to publish. Refusing ads—even though they help pay the bills—that contain demonstrably false and dangerous inaccuracies is not “censorship,” but is responsible publishing, especially during a pandemic. I trust you wouldn’t publish denialism of, say, climate science, the Holocaust or anything containing undeniably vile hate speech. With the number of Americans alone dead from COVID now approaching one million and so many still at risk, fact-based information on health is crucial as well.
Please don’t let your readers down in this important regard.
It is surprising and a bit disappointing that the Bohemian decided to print a paid advertisement which makes no common sense, as alluded to by the author.
It is not that free speech and free scientific inquiry have become controversial now, as the good doctor states—it has always been controversial! Yet “good doctor, Harte,” under the auspices of freedom of speech, is accusing the government—among other entities—of engaging in misinformation to mislead the general public. By cherry-picking statistics to uphold his argument, he leaves out many important facts regarding the overall efficacy of the vaccine and other attempts to mitigate the risks to the population, and casts blame. Surely, the good doctor must know that science almost always lags behind when it comes upon new and unfamiliar medical issues—and must rely on research data compiled over time to postulate what policies might promote an effective response regarding the populace.
I am not a proponent of censorship, and do believe in free speech, but with the caveat laid forth by Senator Daniel Moynihan, who years ago stated, “You are entitled to your own opinions, (‘good doctor,’) not your own facts.”
The Feb. 9–15 edition’s page 3 Harte paid ad is an abomination for Pacific Sun to have published without caveat. While newspapers certainly are desperate for needed income and have the right to publish viewpoints, placement of this true mis-information is misguided and dangerous in the current pandemic.
It could be said that, given the high vaccination rate in Marin and Sonoma, [and the high rate of] education and media-savvy, it may be safe to promulgate such blather. If the piece tips one person on the fence or causes them to repeat the opinions as fact, leading to spread of Covid and potential illness, etc., then the Pacific Sun becomes an anti-vax vehicle. The “This Modern World” “gravity is a hoax” comic strip on the left side of the page provides good context, but the damage is done. Please open your eyes.