Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Where’s Hillary? – Ctd.

Der Tzeitung, the Brooklyn-based Hasidic newspaper that airbrushed both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Director of Counterterrorism Audrey Tomason out of the famous Situation Room photo has come up with an attempt at an explanation for their action.

The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion. That has precedence even to our cherished freedom of the press! In accord with our religious beliefs, we do not publish photos of women, which in no way relegates them to a lower status. Publishing a newspaper is a big responsibility, and our policies are guided by a Rabbinical Board. Because of laws of modesty, we are not allowed to publish pictures of women, and we regret if this gives an impression of disparaging to women, which is certainly never our intention. We apologize if this was seen as offensive.

First, it’s not an apology when you make it conditional: “if this was seen as offensive.” By the way, it was.

Second, and more importantly, if you’re running a newspaper, freedom of the press doesn’t take a backseat to the rest of the First Amendment. (Just as a matter of record, freedom of the press comes before the free exercise of religion in the First Amendment’s litany.) If a newspaper can’t present the whole story, including the fact that both Hillary Clinton and Audrey Tomason were in the Situation Room and in the photograph, then it needs to seriously consider whether or not it is a newspaper or a religious tract.