Letter to the Editor RE: Michael Lacey’s Comments

For as long as I can remember, journalists have been accused of acting irresponsibly and “hiding behind the first amendment.” I tend to shrug the notion off, as I am a staunch defender of the right to free speech.

And then along comes a guy like Mike Lacey, Executive Editor of Village Voice Media LLC, who during a speech at an awards dinner hosted by the Phoenix Society of Professional Journalists, referred to his deceased friend, journalist Tom Fitzpatrick, as “my nigger.”

Put aside the fact that this was a Society of Professional Journalists awards dinner. Put aside the fact that Mike Lacey is white, as was Tom Fitzpatrick. Put aside the fact even, that Lacey is the titular head of a rather large consortium of alt-weeklies, and therefore represents them when speaking in public. The speech, delivered on the 40th Anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination, was vicious and hateful, and undermines all that are our association is supposed to stand for. The speech also followed the acceptance of a award given to an African American journalist, and accepted posthumously by his 82 year old mother… who then had to listen to Lacey’s racist rant.

For Mike Lacey to use that expression, and then later offer up a half-hearted apology, which ended with “It is regrettable that any phrase of mine offended those attending a First Amendment awards banquet,” is at best some next level arrogance, and at worse something much more serious.

Anyone with half a brain, and even the slightest bit of credibility knows how painfully inappropriate it is to use that word; to even think about using that word. I’m embarrassed for you, Mike, and I don’t even know you. I do, however, publish an alt-weekly. So I’m doubly embarrassed, because your remarks reflect on me, Mike. They taint our whole association. And that’s why I’m calling you on it. You see, Mike, ignorance really pisses people off. But, ignorance from someone who’s presumably educated, and a supposed “leader” of a media company, is inexcusable. In one speech, you’ve managed to diminish our entire industry. You’ve made it infinitely harder for your staff to do its job. They deserve better. We deserve better.

You can drape yourself in an American flag the size Phoenix, Mike. That won’t save you from this one. My advice? Muster some real contrition, and fast. Or, get the hell out of the game. You’ve clearly lost touch.

Paul Curci
Philadelphia City Paper
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