If you're going to take an ad in your newspaper, it's probably a good idea to check whether it's from a group whose website banners a challenge to the US Holocaust Museum that says "Please provide, with proof, the name of one person who was killed in the gas chambers at Auschwitz."
UH's Daily Cougar learned that lesson last week. They accepted an ad from the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust" ("Open debate" apparently meaning a discussion on whether it never happened or never, ever, ever happened).
Jewish students, and others, were shocked.
The paper said the person who usually reviews ads was out sick, and mistakes were made.
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An editorial in the paper said:
The ad was calculating, manipulative and specifically designed to target a vulnerable audience and to fly under the radar of proofreaders.
We refuse to recognize this so-called "debate" as such by responding to it, except to say that Holocaust denial is recognized by many, including the editors of The Daily Cougar, as a form of anti-Semitism.
We apologize to anyone who was offended by the ad. We will continue to work hard and be diligent in maintaining the credibility of The Daily Cougar. Our first steps will be to investigate ad revenue policies and return any funds received from this organization.
Let it be clear: this isn't an issue of free speech. Holocaust deniers often conflate the right to make an argument with the right to be judged for it. We at The Daily Cougar believe that while they have the right to their opinions, they do not have the right to have them validated - even tacitly - in the printing of our newspaper.
Rabbi Kenny Weiss, executive director of Houston Hillel, accepted the apology. "At this point, it appears to me that the printing of the ad was, in fact, an unfortunate accident. As members of the Houston and UofH Jewish communities, we should applaud The Daily Cougar for the well-written editorial that clearly, unequivocally and publicly places Holocaust denial in its proper context," he wrote.
Not everything was smooth, though: The Cougar had to disable comments on the editorial because things got so out of hand. They're accepting letters to the editor instead.