Thursday, March 12, 2009

Daily Utah Chronicle To File Theft Charges Against Distributor Of National Socialist Movement Flyers In Salt Lake City

The Daily Utah Chronicle, whose papers were used as a means to distribute flyers published by the National Socialist Movement from door-to-door in the Sugar House district of Salt Lake City, has responded, with both a news story and an opinion column. And in both, they proclaim their intent to file theft charges against whoever used their paper to help distribute the flyers. The flyers in question, tracked down and identified in my previous post, are available for viewing HERE and HERE.

In their news story, published HERE on March 12th, the Chronicle offers a much more detailed account of the event, and, unlike KTVX, did not attempt to censor the name of the organization. The story did spread to Stormfront and the Vanguard News Network Forum. KTVX news video again presented below, via Podblanc:

In their opinion column, published HERE, they not only dissociate the Chronicle from the ideology of the National Socialist Movement, but once again proclaim their intent to press theft charges should the distributor be discovered:

Early Wednesday [March 11th], copies of The Daily Utah Chronicle were found bundled with racist flyers in a Sugar House neighborhood. Each paper was folded with a flyer held under a rubber band. The papers were older issues, and from what we can tell, only a few houses fell victim to the distasteful delivery.

At least one local news channel is guilty of overhyping the story, considering there were so few victims. The trashy flyers are no more noteworthy than any other easily discarded garbage.

The Chronicle certainly was not involved in the production or distribution of the offensive flyers. We don’t deliver papers to any private residences. The information printed on the flyers was disgusting and does not represent our view in any way.

If the perpetrator or perpetrators were pulling a prank, they have stepped far beyond good taste. Either way, we will press theft charges should the identity of those who distributed the flyers be discovered. Readers are permitted to take one copy of The Chronicle per day. Taking large quantities of The Chronicle without permission is considered theft.

The Chronicle was in no way involved in this, and we denounce whomever is responsible.

Of course, the Chronicle is accusing KTVX Channel 4 of overhyping the story, since they were the only professional Utah media outlet to pick it up on March 11th. Even then, KTVX tried to manipulate the story, refusing to identify the NSM by name. However, as you can see, the Chronicle is no less guilty of "overhyping", considering the juvenile, hyperbolic terms they use to describe the flyer, such as "trashy".

Whether theft charges would stick would depend upon whether one can actually steal "old" copies of the Chronicle. Does the "one copy per day" rule apply only to the most current issue, as deployed at an official distribution point, or does it also apply to a gaggle of older issues that might be found in the trash or in a discard pile at a local library?

Another distribution tactic likely to draw the legal ire of a newspaper is to buy a newspaper through a local distribution box, then, while the box is open, insert flyers into all remaining newspapers. This might be viewed as "theft of advertising", since newspapers generally provide inserts only to authorized paid advertisers. With a nationwide decline in newspaper revenue in progress, we can expect newspapers to defend what they perceive as "theft" of their product more aggressively.

One must wonder if the Chronicle would be so quick to press theft charges if a group like Equality Utah had used their product to distribute pro-gay flyers. Perhaps they would, but one must also wonder about the character of a society which considers the promotion and protection of homosexual anal sodomy more acceptable than peaceful racial separation or avoidance of interracial marriage.

In any event, activists are strongly advised not to use other newspapers as a means to distribute their own flyers in the future. Stay legal; take time to research littering laws, and don't distribute at shopping malls or other private property if there are signs barring the practice. Take your cues from those who launch petition signature drives; observe how they do it, and pursue your own activism the same way.

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