On the opinion page of the Miami Herald , Patricia Kawaja's letter begins dramatically. "I am alarmed by Tomas Regalado's election as mayor of Miami," she blasts. "Another Cobwebbed politician...."
Only that's not what she actually wrote. When the British-born writer-by-trade sent her letter in earlier this week, it read: "Another Cobwebbed Cuban." Yesterday morning she opened the paper and found the word had been changed. Kawaja now claims her letter was slashed because there's a significant population of Cuban writers and editors at the daily paper. (which by the way is true -- new Metro editor, new senior editor for news, for intance.) It's a freedom of speech issue, she says. "The Herald is constantly sucking up to Cubans. I have never been so livid."
So yesterday afternoon, she wrote an e-mail to publisher David Landsberg, expressing her outrage. His response was articulate. He explained the word had been "flagged," because it referenced "race, religion or national origin in the context of name-calling." Not to mention, the paper reserves the right to edit its published letters for length, clarity, and content.
(Still, Riptide has to wonder if the term "Cobwebbed Canadian" would have induced the same chopping of words)
Contends Kawaja: "It's a nationality, not a race! It wasn't like I used the word Nigger or Faggot." She argues Regalado's homeland was important to note because, "He has stated he is going to resurrect the politics of the exiles...And this is America!"
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Kawaja has been writing letters to the Herald for the last eight years. Now, she's rethinking her subscription." I pay a year in advanced for the paper," she says. "Who does that these days?"