The Oklahoman’s Editorial Writer Apologizes for Calling Protestors “Thuggish.”
11:01 AM EDT on June 5, 2020
The state's "Most Trusted" news strikes again!
In Wednesday's paper, The Oklahoman Editorial Board let people know they still exist by publishing an editorial that praised "business owners" for how they responded to the "thuggish" behavior of alleged protestors who vandalized property across the metro during this last weekend's George Floyd protests.
Here's a screenshot:
What the hell? Is this part of a new effort by The Oklahoman to increase subscribers in rural Oklahoma? Wait. They don't deliver out there anymore so nevermind.
In case you live under a rock – or you're an aging, out-of-touch person who still values editorial input from a newspaper with a strong racist past – "thug" has evolved into a controversial word over the past decade due to its racist connotations. Sure, you may be tempted to make the argument that the technical definition of the word isn't racist, or it's all the result of political correctness gone amuck – and I guess it's your right to be labeled a racist on that hill – but I'd say it's no longer a word that should be used to describe people, especially when it's associated with a nationwide movement that's protesting police brutality against Blacks in America.
The editorial naturally set off the local Twitterati, leading to scores of complaints and carefully worded tweets from current and former employees with the paper. As a result, The Oklahoman's stodgy editorial board writer – Owen Canfield III – added the following apology to the piece:
The headline to an editorial published on this site Wednesday, June 3, caused considerable pain for some readers who felt it was insensitive at best and racist at worst. For this, I apologize.
The editorial was about business owners in Oklahoma City who showed forgiveness and grace after having their buildings destroyed or badly damaged by lawlessness Saturday night/Sunday morning. The headline, and one line in the editorial, called the vandals’ actions “thuggishness.”
The website dictionary.com defines “thug” as “a cruel or vicious ruffian, robber or murderer.” However, it has taken on a more sinister meaning in current jargon. In writing the headline, I failed to take that into account.
Some on social media have criticized our editor, Kelly Fry, for this episode. She has been on furlough all week and had nothing to do with writing the headline.
Yep, Owen is totally sorry. As the editorial writer for the state's largest newspaper, he failed to take into account the more "sinister meaning" behind the word, and /or that people would read it or even care. I guess you can't blame him. He did get away with calling out "thugs" in this 2017 editorial that attempted to place equal blame on the left for the violence at the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville:
I have to ask – Was Kelly Frye on furlough that week, too?
We actually tore a piece that editorial back in 2017. You can read it here if you're a Lost Ogle member. For what it's worth, just a few weeks later, The Oklahoman published a syndicated editorial that also labeled anti-white nationalist protestors as "thugs."
Anyway, I guess that concludes this installment of "The Oklahoman still has an editorial page, and it's still kind of racist, and knowing the paper like we do, that's not really a surprise." I'm sure we'll be back with another installment soon.