The Chico News & Review has refused to print From the Edge twice in two months. Do you think they’re trying to tell me something?
The first time an editor rejected my work was in late ’97. Minnesota Law & Politics had recently published a piece about cops, but when I submitted an article about parent’s rights the editor decided it was way more than the lawyerly community could stand. The magazine has since gone out of business.
I started writing From the Edge in 1998, and when we moved to California I’d phone them in to KFAI radio. My producer refused to broadcast one because I had absent-mindedly used one of the words the Federal Communications Commission bans. My bad.
A while back whoever was my editor then—I’m on my eighth—refused to print a column I’d written about clemency for Roman Polanski. The editor said the whole staff agreed with him.
A couple of months ago I wrote a piece about my recent experiences with mental illness and the way mentally ill people are treated in Butte County, one person in particular. That time CNR staff decided that what I’d written might get the paper sued, and they refused to print it. Fine. Wussy, but fine.
This last refusal takes the cake. I wrote about the Sid Lewis mess, based entirely on published accounts on web sites of the Chico Enterprise-Record and KRCR television, and I referenced nothing that wasn’t available around the world. I didn’t think privacy would be an issue, and it wasn’t.
I’m usually way behind the news cycle, but Lewis had only recently been arrested for masturbating in front of a 17-year-old girl, and I had something to say about both him and the girl. I didn’t know anything about Lewis’s arrest last year on charges of assault with a firearm and corporal injury to a spouse until I read about it in the CNR. I was feeling pretty pleased with myself for being up to date when actually I wasn’t so much current as too soon. Unbeknownst to me, there’s apparently a limit on these things.
Here’s what my editor said, in part, “It’s a brand new case and there is way too little information available to be putting out opinions in the paper as to what’s going on with either Sid or especially the girl who made the allegation.”
I’m not a reporter, and I feel no obligation to be fair or balanced. I never thought anybody would expect me to toe the CNR’s editorial line in any way out here on the edge, because I haven’t and I don’t. I guess that’s the problem.