Sandusky Register on Privacy: What's good for me not good for thee
By Chad D. Baus
During the last week of June, Sandusky Register Editor Matt Westerhold launched an all-out assault on the privacy and security of approximately 2,700 concealed handgun license holders in several Northern Ohio counties by publishing their private information - information which Ohio legislators have deemed confidential. In doing so, Editor Westerhold unilaterally made this information public record, despite the people of Ohio, through the General Assembly, deciding that this information is NOT public record.
In spite of many state legislators, county sheriffs and even Governor Strickland himself attempting to talk sense into him, citing a phantom "right to know", Westerhold, editor and self-appointed public records watchdog at the Register, published the list of CHL-holders. Westerhold claimed he did it "in the public interest", attempting to paint his actions as an exercise in legal "free speech", which has previously been held to mean that journalists cannot be prosecuted for releasing information that was intended to be confidential, classified, or even top secret.
But when it comes to Editor Westerhold's views on free speech and public records, the two weeks following the release of these law-abiding gun owners' confidential information of have been extremely enlightening.
After Buckeye Firearms Association Legislative Chair and attorney Ken Hanson used Westerhold as Exhibit #1 for how information placed in the public domain can be abused, the editor made a Register reporter, who said she had only worked at the paper for two months, call and ask loaded questions, implying that the paper would write a story that mischaracterized Hanson's article on Westerhold as having "criminally" endangered his child, and further questioning Hanson’s status as a “man” for pointing out that not all bad guys stop at harming adults.
More recently, the Register has refused to run that same commentary by Hanson as a paid insert in its newspaper, so that its readers could be informed about the full extent of the damage The Register could cause CHL-holders by releasing their information. The insert, by using Westerhold as an example, clearly and logically shows the readers of The Register the danger that Westerhold’s actions put the licensees in by publishing these pre-packaged “victim lists.”
Beyond this refusal to run a paid insert which would be personally discomforting to Editor Westerhold, The Register has been busily conducting a further Orwellian exercise by deleting criticism posted to their website by readers. Buckeye Firearms Association has documented dozens of posts critical of Westerhold that have been deleted from their website “comments” section. (Clearly the actions of a paper that is confident in their editorial position...)
It seems the Sandusky Register's Matt Westerhold believes 'free speech' is speech which doesn't cost him, personally, anything.
By their actions, it is clear the Sandusky Register believes privacy only works one way...good for them, but not good for you.
They want it both ways. The Register will publish personal records that are by statute private
(CHL records) just because they disagree with the law, but when they are challenged to print public but personal information about their editor, they refuse.
And when we challenge them to furnish information about a sex offender employed by the paper in the name of public interest, they ignore us.
The Register has indeed declared war on gun owners. They are violating privacy. They have likened CHL-holders to sex offenders. They have created a list of targets. They will NOT listen to reason, and they actively suppress viewpoints that disagree with them. They MUST be stopped!
Buckeye Firearms Association is going to continue to fight the Register in any way we can to make them stop this egregious affront to privacy and personal rights.
Please consider making a donation to Buckeye Firearms Association NOW to help us STOP
this inexcusable attack on your rights. We need your help in this battle as we prepare to implement our next steps.
Continuing Coverage of the Sandusky Register matter:
Sandusky Register Editor Matt Westerhold Declares War on Gun Owner Privacy