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Bob Eschliman was fired for criticizing the Queen James Bible.

A follow-up to my op/ed last week about Bob Eschliman, now former editor of the Newton Daily News, who came under fire for writing a critique of a homosexual-themed study Bible, entitled the Queen James Bible, on his personal blog.  Yesterday Shaw Media, who owns the Newton Daily News, fired him.

John Rung, the president of Shaw Media, wrote an editorial explaining the decision.

The First Amendment prohibits the making of any law that impedes the free exercise of religion, abridges freedom of speech, infringes on the freedom of the press, interferes with the right to peaceably assemble, or prohibits the petitioning of government for redress of grievances.

The First Amendment does not eliminate responsibility and accountability for one’s words and actions.

I agree, it does not, but I have to question whether the problem is with his use of the word “Gaystapo” which their decision ironically bolsters his point or is it because of his criticism of a slide that this particular Bible marks of the Church toward affirming homosexuality?  I’ll admit that Bob and I have a different approach and style when it comes to addressing homosexuality.  I personally refrain from the use of pejoratives like “gaystapo” for a variety of reasons.  Even so, my speech is often called “hateful” by those who disagree with me.  Why?  Because I don’t embrace homosexuality as a lifestyle.  I’m a man under authority.  Scripture does not give me that option.  It’s sinful like many other things, but unlike those other sins we’re not under pressure by our culture and sometimes our courts to embrace it.

So where exactly does Rung draw the line?  He continues…

Shaw Media’s “Statement of editorial principles,” which can be read in full by clicking on the link at the bottom of NewtonDailyNews.com, starts with this:

“Because journalists subject people and institutions to intense and constant scrutiny, we must maintain the highest principles in our conduct. Our integrity is our most valuable asset. Without it, we lose the public trust invested in us by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”

In the past week, we have lost some of that public trust that is so vital to our existence. Today, we hope to begin earning it back.

There will be some who will criticize our action, and mistakenly cite Mr. Eschliman’s First Amendment rights as a reason he should continue on as editor of the Newton Daily News.

As previously stated, he has a right to voice his opinion. And we have a right to select an editor who we believe best represents our company and best serves the interests of our readers.

We take our responsibility as a media company seriously. Our Promise is to provide relevant information, marketing solutions for our business partners, and to advocate for the communities we serve. To be effective advocates, we must be able to represent the entire community fairly.

They are right that they have the right to choose their own editor.  I can also see that they may not want their staff to maintain personal blogs.  Their statement of editorial standards needs to be updated to clearly lay out expectations then when it comes to social media and blogging on one’s own time.  It’s silent on the issue.

So he has the right to voice his opinion as long as it is an opinion that Shaw Media agrees with is essentially what Rung is saying. If the use of pejoratives was the problem are they now banning pejoratives in their commentary, editorials, and letters to the editor or just what they disagree with?  Rung owes it to his subscribers to clarify the paper’s position.

They should realize their decision may come with consequences as well whether it is through the legal system or through the free market.  As far as restoring public trust they just violated the trust of those in their community who share Bob’s opinion.  They also invite scrutiny of the remaining staff and content of their newspaper to see just how fairly they represent the entire community which includes conservatives and the faith community.

13 comments
  1. Is this really that different from what you did when you posted something controversial on a Republican site you maintained? I acknowledge that Bob was upset over something he found offensive, but as an editor of a newspaper who represents that newspaper 24/7, he should have known better. Plus, I read that as editor he refused to print any of the letters to the editor type letters he received about what he had posted on his blog.

    I also read that they did a “Save Bob” type online petition and it only got 48 signatures and most of those weren’t even from Iowa or even the U.S. I can only assume that if that would have went over better he would probably still have the job because in the end they are a business.

    1. Bruce, “he” didn’t stop anything from being printed as he was immediately suspended. The petition was, unfortunately, poorly worded. I didn’t even sign it. Not because I didn’t support Bob, but because I didn’t want to be associated with the language in the petition. I also don’t know how well publicized it was.

      1. If he was suspended, he obviously was not responsible for letters to the editor. That is why I worded it “I read”. Thanks.

    2. In fact, most of them were from Europe, I feel that is the main reason it was shut down.

  2. When you choose to start at Godwin’s Law you have already lost the argument and all intelligent discourse has already become an afterthought.

    If you are going to choose to blog in a manner that advocates discrimination against a group, expect backlash both personally and professionally. The freedom of speech promised in the 1st amendment does not free one from the consequences of that speech.

    1. Yes your side tends to throw out intelligent discourse. You don’t want tolerance, you want agreement.

      And your side also targets people. You say we favor discrimination, we don’t. You want special rights, to redefine marriage, and to trample on religious conscience. Isn’t trampling on religious conscience a form of discrimination?

      1. I think both sides of any debate want to win. To me, it’s how you conduct yourself in that process.

      2. First of all, markblu was referring to Robert Eschliman’s blog, not anything you said. Second of all, what markblu said has nothing to do with being gay, or pro-gay, or even anti-gay. Also, you come off as very hostile… just sayin, also, markblu wasn’t targeting anything aside from the use of the phrase “Gaystapo” (ugh, I hate typing it even in reference) I happen to know him (Bob) very well and he isn’t exactly the nicest man in the world. Though I don’t wish for his “family bubble” to fall on hard times, perhaps this will be a life check for him as he picks up the pieces… Even ones that have long since been forgotten by him like myself, and countless others. Sorry, I seem to have gone off on a tangent. I leave you with this sir, perhaps you should look up what Godwin’s Law is. It doesn’t appear as though you know what it means.

      1. Godwin’s Law: an Internet adage asserting that “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches .

      2. I think the editor wanted to fall on his sword, so to speak. Chuck Colson, may he rest in peace, was the first Christian I ever heard sound the alarm about the anti-Christian homosexuals going after his ministry in a big way. There’s a book “The Crimson Letter,” about the gay Reds at Harvard and the shaping of the American culture. Well, Karl Marx was all for homosexuality. Engels and Lenin were not. The European socialists are fine with it and Putin doesn’t want any part of it. It certainly has been in the news lately and it is being pushed on the American public.

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