August 8, 2020
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A Fair Criticism

Published July 08, 2020

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The editor of The Source responded to a recent letter from Eileen Banisch [“Source Throws MPD Under the Bus,” June 26] by attacking the writer instead of either defending or correcting the article on which Ms. Banisch commented. She criticized a prior article [“Youth-Led March Continues Black Lives Matter Movement in Madison”] for including the phrase “police and other racist systems.” Ms. Banisch suggested that the article can only be read as indicating that police organizations generally are appropriately lumped with “other racist systems,” and that paper owed an apology to the Madison Police Department for such phrasing.

The editor responded by accusing Ms. Banisch of “falsely equating criticism of a system...with an indictment of those who have chosen to serve” and went on to imply that her intent was to “protect the status quo.” Ms. Banisch does not say that The Source is indicting “those who have chosen to serve.” Her letter simply takes exception to The Source’s sweeping association of “police” with “other racist systems.”

If The Source wishes to defend the position that police, generally, are a “racist system” as the article’s language implies, rather than an entity like so many others that must contend with a few bad actors, it should do so. Otherwise, her point is a fair criticism, and the paper owes both the Madison Police Department and Ms. Banisch an apology.

Peter Coffey