August 24, 2012

Vex Magazine Saga Continues...

So around the same time that I published my friend Rob's open letter to Vex Magazine, somebody (or bodies) apparently took some copies of the magazine, put a sticker on the front, and put an insert into the paper to share their position in light of that same noxious op/ed by Mort Todd my friend Rob complained about, which gets major facts about the story wrong, and contains dehumanizing and classist rhetoric.

Mort Todd went to the Portland Daily Sun to decry this as some great injury.

"Aug. 22 issues of "Vex" magazine were suspiciously removed from stands or vandalized, according to Mort Todd, the magazine's publisher. Todd said the article advocating for the square's redevelopment was what led to the magazine's theft, vandalism and redistribution because someone failed to agree with an opposing view on what should happen to the failed public space.
"It's a total violation of First Amendment rights," Todd said, because it's stifling a divergent view on an issue."

But this begs several questions:

If you give a publication away for free, can it be stolen?

If a point of view is ADDED to your own, is that really censorship? If your point of view isn't actually censored, isn't that just dialogue?

If these "stolen" publications are returned, is that still theft?

And if it's given away for free, isn't "stealing" exactly what you want done by your readers?

How did he know they were stolen and not taken by readers?

Maybe that particular issue was a popular one, because of the controversy surrounding Congress Square?

If you are giving things away for free, and somebody lays claim to them, aren't they rightfully their property at that point?

As their property, should they not have the right to do whatever they please with that property, including redistributing them?

Just a few thoughts I had in response. More than anything though, what strikes me most of all is that Mort Todd is clearly just a bully who didn't get enough hugs growing up. He thinks that he should be able to publicly hate and dehumanize Portland's homeless and low-income populations-- well, actually he should, that's guaranteed under the 1st amendment.

But if somebody calls him out for being wrong on the facts, for being hateful and hurtful to populations that are already marginalized in society-- that's not censorship. That's dialogue.

The fact that he's having a public hissy fit when some prankster put a sticker on a few issues of his FREE magazine, in which he publishes hateful and hurtful opinions, to me, just shows that he is nothing more than a common bully.


  1. So if I hacked into your blog and added some content to your free blog would it be cool with you?

    This is not a trick question.

  2. You just DID add content to my blog-- by commenting.

    No hacking required. The insert is no different.