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Santa Barbara Newspaper Casts Itself As Free Speech Rebels For Its Gross 'Illegals' Headline

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The Santa Barbara News-Press, not exactly known as a beacon of journalistic integrity, has been facing protests over its front-page headline proclaiming: "Illegals line up for driver’s licenses."

Not only is the headline in violation of the Associated Press' guidelines as of 2013, but the word has been increasingly viewed as offensive and dehumanizing. There's a petition up that says:

Not only is snapping a photo of a group of Latinos and calling them illegal wrong and ignorant, it also creates a hostile environment for the largest ethnic community in the state. The word illegal evokes thoughts of “danger” and “the enemy” and causes others to look at our entire community as a threat, often times with fatal consequences.
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The newspaper has faced protests and most recently the newspaper's building was vandalized:

In a news article on the vandalism, the newspaper doubled down in defense and compared itself to Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris. You can read the article in full here since the original is behind a pay wall, but here's their lede:

As the French took Thursday to mourn the slaughter of a dozen people in retaliation for cartoons published in Paris-based Charlie Hebdo magazine poking fun at the Prophet Muhammad, someone with apparent open-border sentiments lobbed paint bombs and sprayed graffiti at the headquarters of the Santa Barbara News-Press over the paper using the word “illegals” to describe people in this country illegally.

The Santa Barbara News-Press has a controversial owner in Wendy McCaw. In 2006, nine journalists, including five top editors and a columnist, resigned from the paper because they said McCaw violated ethical guidelines, like those calling on journalists to "distinguish between advocacy and news reporting" and to be "accountable to their readers, listeners, viewers and each other." LA Observed called it "one of the saddest media stories of the year."