Unrequested and unwanted, this notorious fear and hate mongering DVD arrived today, October 23rd, in my mailbox in Charlottesville in the swing state of Virginia: http://obsessionthemovie.com
The DVD seeks to teach people that an entire religion, Islam, is aimed at terrorizing and killing them. The distributors of the DVD have clearly determined by some respectable and scholarly method that this information is most edifying for residents of swing states.
The DVD did not arrive inserted in a newspaper ad, the way it arrived in so many homes in other swing states a month or two back. It arrived by itself in a little postcard-sized envelope with nonprofit postage from The Clarion Fund. The Clarion Fund could have gotten my name and address from any list, but not from any religious or rightwing political list, because I'm not on any -- with one exception. I recently entered my address on the Virginia McCain website in order to obtain tickets for a Sarah Palin rally in Richmond, at which I made this video of my own, which is also full of hatred and bigotry, but which does not approve of those attitudes:
I only subscribe to one newspaper, the Charlottesville Daily Progress. I called and asked them if they'd sent the DVD or sold their mailing list, and the person I spoke with said they did not know and would get back to me. Clarion Fund doesn't answer their phones. Chances are the Daily Progress had nothing to do with it, but if it did then chances are very good that Media General, the parent company owning lots of newspapers in Virginia and North Carolina, among other places, is hitting more than this one little town.
According to a story posted yesterday on MSNBC, thousands of people around Hampton Roads, Va., have received the DVD, and the McCain campaign claims to have nothing to do with the DVD or its distribution, refusing to comment on it even to condemn its vicious and destructive lies:
For those who've forgotten or don't know what "Obsession" is about and what it is being used for, here are a couple of articles:
National outcry over 'Obsession' DVD
By ANICK JESDANUN • AP Business Writer • October 4, 2008
NEW YORK-- Newspapers that carried an advertising supplement in recent weeks containing a DVD critical of radical Muslims have faced complaints from readers and questions about whether newspapers should offer a platform to everyone willing to pay for distribution.
Although a few papers refused to carry the DVD, about 70 including The New York Times distributed it on the grounds that rejecting it would violate the sponsor's right to free speech. The decision generated letters, cancellations and even a protest.
[AND OF COURSE THE TIMES' CLAIM IS NOT TRUE, SINCE THE TIMES AND OTHER PAPERS REJECT ADS FOR REASONS Of POLITICAL CONTENT, CONFLICTS WITH THE CLAIMS OF LARGER ADVERTISERS, AND FOR NO STATED REASON AT ALL]
The Clarion Fund, a nonprofit founded in 2006 to address "the most urgent threat of radical Islam," spent millions of dollars distributing the DVDs mostly in battleground election states. That targeting led to further outcry about the group's motives.
"This is definitely the most feedback that I've gotten to an ad," said Ted Vaden, public editor for The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. "It's among the heaviest reaction I've gotten to anything. The great majority of the reaction was negative."
Vaden said the paper received about 500 e-mail and phone messages and had some 50 cancellations. He said the paper may have sparked some of the complaints by writing a front-page story calling attention to "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West," the DVD insert that critics have denounced as anti-Muslim propaganda.
The decision over running the ad was similar to what online services like Google Inc.'s YouTube and Yahoo Inc.'s Flickr face when they let users freely share provocative video or photos. They get complaints of promoting unpopular viewpoints when they try to uphold free-speech principles; they get complaints of censorship when they don't.
Newspapers generally insist on giving a platform to a variety of viewpoints, but readers who complained were largely critical.