Disturbing news from a wacky messenger

By: - March 4, 2008 11:30 am

 For those of you who don't make it a habit to read the Beaufort Observer on a regular basis, you may have missed a story that ran in their online edition on February the 27th. Entitled "State may target counties with no Spanish phone options" and authored by a "reporter" named Jay Niver, the story tells of Beaufort County's recent efforts to discontinue Spanish recordings on its phone systems. According to the story,

Commissioners here have been trying to make Beaufort County less attractive to a flood of Hispanic/Latino illegal immigrants, many of whom tap public resources such as schools, health and social services."

How's that for some warm, Tar Heel hospitality?

What's just as disturbing as the substance of story itself, however, is the way in which the supposed "reporter" covers it. In addition to the tone of the paragraph above, check out these little nuggets from the story:

On Feb. 4, commissioners voted 4-3 along party lines to remove pre-recorded Spanish from phones at the Department of Health. But before the week was out, Health Director Roxanne Holloman had found state attorneys in Raleigh who said that could cost the county dearly: More than $1 million in state and federal funding would be lost.

The bureaucrats told her (emphasis supplied) that the absence of a Spanish phone option would be a violation of the Title VI provision of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based upon national origin." 

And this one:

The Observer and County Manager Paul Spruill conducted separate surveys of similar counties' language policies, though neither knew that the other was investigating the issue.

What became apparent is that, while many counties with sizeable Hispanic/Latino populations do use Spanish on their phones, many others do not. And among those who "no speak Spanish," some are presumably inflicting a far greater negative impact."

Okay, okay, so it ain't the NYT and maybe Niver was just lamely trying to spice up his story. A check of the paper's ownership and editorials, however, indicates that such lameness may be a fairly frequent component in the Beaufort Observer. Check out this column from the paper's publisher, W.L. Buzz Cayton which consists almost exclusively of quotations from that famous voice of tolerance and open-minded thought, Phyllis Schlafly. Here's Buzz's best paragraph:

The Beaufort Observer encourages everyone to get involved: Call those who represent you at all levels and let your voice be heard. Demand the rights of a country founded on God-given rights and His natural law."

It's good to know that the people of Beaufort County have such a dispassionate and reliable source of news on their community.   

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Rob Schofield
Rob Schofield

NC Newsline Editor Rob Schofield oversees day-to-day newsroom operations, authors and voices regular commentaries, and hosts the 'News & Views' weekly radio show/podcast.