A repulsive apology to hate-mongers in Maine

You absolutely cannot make this up: the Portland (Maine) Press Herald has published an apology for running a photo on Sept. 11 of Muslims praying. The photo, taken on Sept. 10, portrays Portland-area residents marking the end of Ramadan. Writes editor and publisher Richard Connor:

Many saw Saturday’s front-page story and photo regarding the local observance of the end of Ramadan as offensive, particularly on the day, September 11, when our nation and the world were paying tribute to those who died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks nine years ago.

This should be as controversial as publishing a recipe for apple pie. Don’t take my word for it. See the photo and accompanying story for yourself. (The audio slideshow above is part of the Web version of the story.)

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a more shameful and repulsive message from a publisher than Connor’s. As Henry Blodget writes at Business Insider, “it really sounds like [what] is going on here is that the Portland Press Herald is agreeing with some readers that Muslim Americans should not be considered Americans. And if that’s what the paper believes, it should probably just come out and say so.”

The fear and hatred being directed toward American Muslims these days is truly terrifying. The folks who’ve whipped up hysteria over the Islamic center that has been proposed for a site near Ground Zero have much to answer for, whether they did it for ratings or political gain.

My concern is that we haven’t seen the worst of it yet. And if a newspaper publisher won’t stand up and be counted, then we have reached a new low.

More from Romenesko. (Via @jilliancyork.)

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Presenting the 13th annual Phoenix Muzzle Awards

Just in time for your Fourth of July celebrations, we present the 13th annual Muzzle Awards, published in the Phoenix newspapers of Boston, Portland and Providence.

Starting in 1998, I’ve been rounding up enemies of free speech and personal liberties in New England, based on news reports over the previous year. For the past several years my friend and occasional collaborator Harvey Silverglate has been writing a sidebar about free speech and the lack thereof on campus.

Yes, Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department makes the list for his failure to understand that you shouldn’t arrest someone who’s done nothing wrong other than mouth off to you in his own home. So does former Newton mayor David Cohen, who should not seek a second career as a newspaper editor. So does the MBTA, a hardy perennial.

But my personal favorite is the Portland Press Herald, whose editorial page came out in support of a proposal by the Falmouth Town Council to clamp down on the right of residents to speak out at council meetings. When the council itself unanimously voted against the proposal several weeks later, citing free-speech concerns, the newspaper found itself in the bizarre position of showing less regard for the First Amendment than elected officials.

On Friday at 9 p.m., I’ll join Dan Rea of WBZ Radio (AM 1030) to talk about the Muzzles and anything else that might come up.