DES MOINES, Iowa — A local newspaper editor, fired after he made anti-gay comments on his personal blog, now says the paper is trampling on his constitutional rights. “It wasn’t for publication,” explained former Newton Daily News editor Bob Eschilman, “It was for a personal blog that maybe 30 people a day were looking at. Mainly family and friends.”
So Eschilman is filing a complaint with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “For me this is not even close to hate speech. What this is is that we need more speech, not less speech,” says Eschilman’s attorney, Matthew Whitaker, “I think Bob was expressing his deeply held religious beliefs, which are mainstream Christian beliefs, quite frankly. And that that is what is protected.”
ISU Journalism Department head Michael Bugeja says, while journalists have a right to their opinions, voicing those opinions can carry consequences. “You do have the right to express your ideas and to express them even if they’re unpopular. But you also must take the consequences of that expression,” he explains.
The company that runs the paper is not commenting, but in a May editorial explained Eschliman was fired because his public airing of his opinion, “Compromised the reputation of this newspaper and his ability to lead it.”