Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Freedom is not Free: Even in Crawford

Do you remember a few weeks ago the media was in all a hissy when the Crawford newspaper endorsed J. Kerry? Well the townspeople did not like it one bit. People there love Bush and just like any one of us, they are standing up for their cause! God Bless them.
Most folks in Crawford (pop. 705) wholeheartedly support the re-election of the man whose "Western White House" made their speck on the map famous. Eighty-two percent voted for President Bush in 2000.

The paper's publisher, W. Leon Smith, said he never expected such a hostile response. He knew "a person or two might pull an ad, that we might lose a subscriber or two."

"But this has turned a little more vicious," said Smith, 51, wearing a decade-old knit tie and ink pens in his white shirt pocket.

More than a dozen area businesses banded together to take out a two-page ad in a competing newspaper to endorse Bush, and all the stores in Crawford that sold The Iconoclast stopped.

Rita Kirk, a Southern Methodist University public affairs professor, said Smith should have expected a backlash from merchants who feel their lifeblood would be threatened in a town that has been bolstered by tourism since Bush's election.

"In this particular case, he made a judgment that he knew was not a prevailing popular sentiment among his readers," Kirk said. "An independent press is supposed to be just that. Of course, we all know free speech is never free."

Folks in Crawford are quick to point out that Smith does not even live here. He lives in Clifton, about 20 miles to the north, where he owns the Clifton Record and a movie theater next door and serves as mayor.(/snip)

"The rest of the nation looked at that and saw it as Crawford — the president's adopted hometown — didn't even support him. That's as far from the truth as you can possibly get," said Mike Westerfield, 49, a lifelong Crawford resident who praises Bush as a "down-home, God-fearing, family loving Texan."

Smith said he hopes tempers cool and his relations with Crawford merchants improve after the election.

Asked about that possibility, Spanos replied, "With him? Hell, no."