DIXON -- While the Dixon community is still reeling from a controversial column in a local paper, the operators of that small paper say they’re being threatened and harassed, and so are their advertisers.
When FOX40 first met Dave Scholl in his home office in Dixon he told a story about an old western movie he likes.
"There was a crusading newspaper publisher and there was a battle between the cattlemen and the settlers," Scholl said.
He sees himself as that crusading news publisher. Scholl operates the Independent Voice, a small weekly paper that until recently wasn't well known outside of Dixon.
Now, it's come under fire from critics nationwide for a column written by Vice Mayor Ted Hickman, which called for a "Straight Pride American Month” and used terms like "fairy" and "tinker bells" to describe gay people.
Scholl told FOX40 he did read the op-ed before it was published.
"I don’t censor him and I don’t censor any of the columnists," Scholl said.
While he says he did not expect the reaction the article got, he does say he was not surprised.
What has surprised Scholl, however, are the profanity-laced, harassing calls and messages he's been getting, including, as he sees them, threats to his business.
"You guys are in some deep, deep s--- and you deserve to be there... I have a feeling your little three-page newspaper is gonna be going outta business, dude," said one recording.
"Don’t go after anybody’s livelihood because you disagree with them," Scholl said.
Scholl says even local businesses who advertise in his paper have gotten harassing messages.
FOX40 reached out to nine businesses that advertise in that paper. Of the seven that got back to FOX40, six said they did get messages, including some that were harassing.
Kevin Johnson’s a realtor whose advertisement appeared next to Hickman's column, which he's since spoken out against.
"I’m understanding of how people feel," Johnson said. "It's kind of, I would assume, a way they feel they can shut down a paper."
The publisher never disavowed the column Vice Mayor Hickman wrote. He says the two are friends and he appreciates all the good work Hickman has done for the community.
If you talk to people in town some agree with Hickman but many others say they were sickened by his comments.