The River Valley Times says it is parting ways with columnist Marcia Courson after last week’s column was read by many as advocating a curfew for black men.

“I spoke to Marcia this morning and let her know where I was going,” David Herburger, the newspaper’s general manager, said Monday morning. He said this week’s newspaper will have  a number of letters to the editor on the topic and he will have an announcement in the spot where Courson’s column has appeared.

“So I’m looking for someone who has an opinion they might want to espouse to the community of Rancho Murieta,” he said.

Herburger said he heard from a number of unhappy Murietans on Friday.

“I think it’s fair to say the reaction is a fair reaction based on the opinions that she expressed,” he said. “The truth of the matter is, if I had done my job, in the absence of my editor, I would have edited that out. Either I would have pulled the entire column or I would have pulled out that one particular sentence.”

An online protest led by Murietan Carol Corbett mushroomed across the internet, prompting a Bee story Friday, followed by TV coverage that night. An online petition calling for Courson’s dismissal got nearly 250 signatures. 

Although nominally about Rancho Murieta, Courson’s columns, which started in 2012, offered opinions on issues from local to national, often with viewpoints that reflect Courson’s standing as an active Republican.

She is a past director of Rancho Murieta Country Club and a former leader of the community’s Women’s Club.

In last week’s column, after invoking North Korea, Stormy Daniels and other items in the news, Courson settled on the subject of Stephon Clark, who was shot to death by Sacramento police last month, prompting a string of protests.

Her bottom line on the subject: “Police have to be careful not to overact, and you black men might be better off at home after a certain hour.”

Courson responded after this story was published, and her statement appears in the comments below.

“I apologize for giving the community a black eye,” Herburger said. “I wish I could have helped us duck and not taken that.”

Herburger Publications, based in Galt since 1959, publishes four weekly community newspapers in south Sacramento County and provides layout and printing for many publications. The River Valley Times, the smallest of the four, with a claimed free circulation of 5,600, serves Rancho Murieta, Sloughhouse and Wilton. It appears in mailboxes on Wednesdays.

In 2014, the River Valley Times said it was on the verge of going out of business after losing its largest advertiser, Plaza Foods. It asked readers to contribute $12 to cover the next six months of business operations, and enough readers responded to keep the newspaper afloat.


Jody Finnefrock's picture
Joined: 02/14/2016
Posts: 1
Post rating: 2

Censorship

And so it has begun...censorship in America that overrides a person’s First Amendment Rights to free speech in the Press, workplace, etc. Employers will fire you today for saying or doing the wrong things than risk tarnishing their brand image & profits. It’s a “no mistake”, global world with no opportunities for reprimand, retraction of statements, or remedial training.

Instead of honest and/or provocative dialogue, people will be afraid to voice a difference of opinion. Like in many Totalitarian regimes...writers, artists, and columnists will become coy & extremely guarded. Books will be written in allegory form to describe censorship oppression in the same way “Animal Farm” was used to describe the dangers of Communism.

RM.com's picture
Joined: 06/19/2007
Posts: 27388
Post rating: 1359

Marcia Courson responds

In a brief telephone interview Monday morning, Marcia Courson said she has always worked to better Rancho Murieta and would not want to hurt it. 

“I misstated something I was frustrated about,” she said of the column that led to her dismissal. “There was no intent of hatred whatsoever. I can understand the reaction of people. I shouldn’t have said that at all, and I realize that.”

She issued this statement:

I want to apologize for a statement in my April 11 column in regards to news coverage of the shootings of young black males by policemen. I should not have suggested that keeping kids off the streets at night in poor neighborhoods would help prevent these incidents from occurring.

Rather than sounding biased, I should have chosen better words to express my frustration about our inability to find ways to prevent the violence that occurs on streets in these neighborhoods. 

My column afforded me the chance to share my opinions and vent my frustrations on many issues, and they were not necessarily those of the River Valley Times. It was my choice to get political at times, but I never intended to harm the River Valley Times or our community. I care too much about both. 

I am sad that a seemingly negative, hateful column drew so much attention. You have no idea how I had hoped for even a little attention at times when columns were about worthy local issues and causes.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to have been part of the River Valley Times family for almost six and a half years. Now it is time to move on. 

Carol Corbett's picture
Joined: 02/22/2018
Posts: 6
Post rating: 29

Thank you

Thank you to RanchoMurieta.com  for reporting the story keeping us updated on it 

I have read several peoples comments and they are upset with the dismissal of Marcia (and yes it was a dismissal) as they feel that it violates her right to free speech, totally dismissing the same right to those of us that spoke out against her racially charged vitriol. 

 I can pretty much guarantee you that if suddenly there was a column in The RVT penned by Farrakhan, Sharpton or even the brilliant W.E.B. Du Bois, the  same people that wanted to keep Marcia because of “her right to free speech” would be screaming at the top of the lungs demanding the removal of that “offensive” column.

It’s my opinion that most of the people that disagree with the removal of Marcia do so simply because they agreed with what she was saying. 

 Fortunately, the RVT had more sense than that  and I look forward to reading my weekly paper without cringing 

Wilbur Haines's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 470
Post rating: 452

Ignorance of the First Amendment's meaning

If the First Amendment protects ANYTHING, it is the right of an Editor to decide what words do and do not appear in their publication, without interference from the government or the angry jingoist mob.  The First Amendment does not confer impunity from the reactions of readers and sponsors and other non-government actors.  It does not render writers immune from the decisions of their editors.  It does NOT confer a right, free of private consequences, to portray Rancho Murieta, as she has, in the local media as the "white flight" racist enclave of Sacramento County.  It does not confer a right to express disgusting views free of any consequential speech by others in response.to said disgusting views.  It is merely a protection against GOVERNMENT backlash, not that of your fellow citizens.  This all too commonly held know-nothing notion that 'free speech' is the right to offend other citizens without catching any flak reflects a deep and troubling ignorance of what our Constitutional freedoms truly mean.

Carol Corbett's picture
Joined: 02/22/2018
Posts: 6
Post rating: 29

Thank you Mr. Haines

That was Beautiful Mr. Haines. So eloquently stated!!!

Thank you for that

Al Dolata's picture
Joined: 08/09/2007
Posts: 94
Post rating: 129

Really, Wilbur, who in the

Really, Wilbur, who in the present case are the "angry jingoistic mob", and is rhetoric of that sort helpful?

Al Dolata

John Hein's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 327
Post rating: 386

Al Dolata

That would actually be the left! 

John Hein

Wilbur Haines's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 470
Post rating: 452

There's your answer, Al 

There's your answer, Al  wink

John Hein's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 327
Post rating: 386

Coming from a man and wife

Coming from a man and wife who hate conservatives and the president. Priceless.

John Hein

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