Cowardice and lies

I recently wrote a letter to the editor of my local newspaper, the Kennebec Journal. Here it is.

My very first job was at Hannaford on Willow Street. Starting pay for a high school student was relatively good, key word “relatively”. My friends made minimum wage whereas Hannaford started me a quarter above. That’s not fantastic, but again, I had good pay relative to my peers.

It has recently come to my attention through acquaintances working at that dingy, grimy, ugly little place more commonly known as Ghettoford, that they have a coworker – an employee of 12 years – who has just reached the $9 mark. Nine. Really? I mean, REALLY?

I quit that job for the very fact that said employee was making under $8 in 2005. Inflation is apparently a concept foreign to Hannaford.

The manager at the time, John Gibson – now demoted to assistant manager for Skowhegan – touted the company line and refused to admit that less than $8 was a livable wage for an adult.

When pressed to actually be human, he reverted to the company line that Hannaford pays ‘well’ relative to other human-hating stores. The man had no good answer. Bad wages are bad wages, even if the next guy is worse.

Gibson knew $8 was an insult then, and I’m sure he knows $9 is an insult now. Worst yet, he is representative of the culture that Hannaford promotes. The people in charge of forcing poverty upon the employees at this wretched business are filthy trash who don’t give a damn about anything but their vacuous bottom line.

I have no link to offer because, well, it never got published. I received an email from Opinions Page Editor Naomi Schalit. Here it is.

Dear Michael,

Thank you for your recent letter to the editor. Your letter contains some
allegations which we are unable to verify. We will not be able to publish
your letter as it would be unfair to print just one side of the issue.

Please feel free to write us on other topics.

I am honestly torn. I’m sitting here wondering if I should begin my response on FTSOS “HAHAHAHAHA” or with simple dismay.

This response is an act of cowardice. Furthermore, it is a lie. I’ve been losing confidence in this paper for quite some time now. This only solidifies my dismissal of the majority of this publication as worthwhile.

Letters to the Editor are not held to nearly the same standard as the journalists who fill all the other pages. It is not unfair to offer one side of an issue. Come on. That’s the whole point of an editorial page! What’s the alternative? Should individuals only submit their opinions if they are also submitting the opinions of others? Perhaps the Kennebec Journal would like readers to collaborate and only submit joint letters.

This woman is outright lying to me, though. She isn’t refusing to publish my letter because she couldn’t verify my ‘one-sided point of view’. She publishes thousands of unverified claims every year. The issue here is that I gave a specific name – John Gibson. He was a shitty manager. He’s probably a shitty assistant manager now. The fact that I’m willing to say this is what’s causing the ruckus. It’s a lie to tell me that she can’t verify claims.

Furthermore, it’s an act of cowardice for the KJ to not publish this letter. It is my thought that they believe they may be liable for my words. I doubt that’s true, but if it is, what could possibly happen? John Gibson is a complete corporate hack. He isn’t going to agree with me that low wages are deplorable. That’d jeopardize his career. His only route would be to admit that he believes low wages are fair at Hannaford. That’d ruin his whole libel case since it’s precisely what I’m saying. And even if all that falls through, it’s just a case of he-said, he-said. Libel is very hard to prove. It can’t be done in this situation.

The Kennebec Journal needs to be taken to task. This blog post will reach a few, but not enough. I am going to launch a monthly publication in my local area late summer/early fall. Costs will be relatively low and there are good businesses for liberal advertising around here. At the very least I expect to get my voice out there (along with some like-minded friends). The subject matter will be much like FTSOS, so this isn’t simply a response to this denial to publish my letter. However, the KJ may very well start making the news rather than just reporting it.


The purpose of purpose