a campaign to remove offensive rhetoric from the Pax Centurion newsletter
As the campaign that led to the recent media spotlight on the BPPA, we feel we must respond to the BPPA’s statement “The PAX CENTURION and THE BPPA” on their website.
The cause of our ire was not with the police force at large or their “thankless” work, but with the specific content of Pax Centurion. We harbor no ill will toward the Patrolman’s Association as a union, but feel that the contents of its newsletter are offensive and alienating to a large population of the city. Despite the BPPA’s claims to a “shared belief that every member, and indeed every person, deserves to be treated fairly and decently, without regard to race, gender, ethnicity, or any other such label,” we attest that a belief about equality is incompatible with a proven track record of hateful writing. In fact, as the BPPA is surely aware, it is not us alone who found the content to be problematic, at best; all nine of the Pax’s sponsors who have rescinded their support thus far — a list that includes Stop & Shop, Harpoon Brewery, Simmons College, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt — did so as a result of its inflammatory and hateful words. Harpoon Brewery, for instance, declared “we in no way support the opinions in the BPPA newsletter”.
Indeed, several sponsors publicly stated they thought they were supporting a scholarship fund and had no idea about the content of the newsletter in which their ads appear. According to financial information available on BPPA’s 2010 990 form, however, only 13% of reported ad revenue actually goes to pay scholarships. Details are available on this blog. The BPPA took in $336,494 in advertising revenue, but paid out $44,000, or only 13%, in scholarships. BPPA states that “in recent years, all of the net revenues derived from advertising in the PAX have funded scholarships for the children of our members”. But when advertisers contributed were they informed that 87% of their funds were supporting the newsletter and that only “net revenues”, a mere 13% of their money, constituted their contribution to the scholarship fund? We ask that BPPA clarify this point.
We recognize that individual members of BPPA might not agree with BPPA’s public statement or the contents of Pax Centurion. However, BPPA as an organization is responsible for the inappropriate, offensive, and bigoted content that has historically dominated the pages of its newsletters. BPPA is also responsible for remaining transparent and accountable for how it spends the money of advertisers who thought they were supporting a scholarship fund. Therefore, we urge the BPPA to apologize to each group it has marginalized throughout its publications, which includes, but is not limited to: people of color, women, LGBT people, Muslims, undocumented immigrants, the homeless, sex workers, Egyptians, reformed gang members, and the families of murder victims. We further urge BPPA to commit to changing the oppressive culture that such an official publication promotes. Until then, we do not feel safe or secure as Boston citizens.