There are really only two reasonable responses to the controversy surrounding your paper’s printing of The Burger Grind’s ad featuring “Juicy Lucy:” you could apologize to the community for a lack of good taste, or you could defend the ad as not overtly offensive. People might not agree with one or the other, but at least we could all respect such a stand.
But what you’ve chosen to do is not reasonable, respectful, or responsible. Your official editorial response to the controversy is to say that you have no connection to your advertising content, and to essentially step out of the way so you can egg on the crowd that’s gearing up to storm the Burger Grind, torches and pitchforks in hand.
I’ve never seen such a shameless example of throwing someone under the bus. The majority of your critics may be complaining of your lack of consideration towards women, but I’m more bothered by another failure of character.
Shame on you for being cowards.
You say that this issue has become an opportunity for exercising free speech, an illustration of your paper’s important role in spurring serious conversations. Where do you see that? Where are you facilitating a discussion of what constitutes sexism, or civil discourse, or social advocacy? You could engage your readers with a debate about the contexts within which both sides of this issue operate, but all you’ve done is deny association with your own pages and promote instant hostility towards an unpopular ad’s business.
Some champion for objective reporting!
If you really want to stand by your story that you have no responsibility for your advertising content, that you need to run potentially offensive ads so people can talk about them and thus justify your paper’s existence (a bizarre circular argument if I ever heard one!), then let’s see you prove it.
I invite anyone out there to purchase an ad in the Rebel Yell in the name of some fake, heinously offensive group. Let’s call them Nazi Child Molesters For Slavery. Will you run their ad, Rebel Yell? If not, why the “censorship” now? If so, what exactly would it take to be so offensive to you that you wouldn’t run it?
People For Courage In Journalism, perhaps?