- Associated Press - Thursday, August 20, 2015

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The State Bar of Michigan has decided to discontinue its short story contest after an entry it later found to be “embedded with racist cues and symbolism” won an honorable mention award.

On Wednesday, the Bar issued an apology and withdrew the award for the story, “Post-Conviction Relief” by Kyle Bristow, which centers around a fictional Michigan attorney whose daughter is murdered by a gangbanger.

“We cannot apologize enough,” State Bar President Thomas C. Rombach said in the statement. “The short story contest has been popular with many members. But if this result could occur even with the high caliber of the judges who conferred the award, the contest should be discontinued.”

The contest was held every other year for the past eight years. It was open to Bar members and entries were judged by other members chosen by its Publication and Website Advisory Committee.

Last Friday, the Bar received two complaints about Bristow’s short story, prompting internal discussions among the administration and general counsel, according to an email from Rombach to commissioners. The Publication and Website Advisory Committee voted unanimously on Tuesday to withdraw the award and make a public apology.

“We deeply regret our failure to recognize the underlying symbolism in this story,” said Francine Cullari, chairwoman of the committee. “The panel of five judges approached each contest entry as an imaginative work of fiction, rather than a potential ideological manifesto.”

Bristow is the author of the book “White Apocalypse” and former head of the Young Americans for Freedom at Michigan State University. He told the Lansing State Journal (https://on.lsj.com/1hOv1Eo ) that his story is “simply about a criminal defense attorney who becomes fed up with the legal system.”

“If the State Bar officials are now getting their panties in a bunch over a mere fictional story, then I submit that it is probably a good idea that they canceled the (biennial) contest so that they are not triggered in the future by politically incorrect thought-crimes,” he said.

Bristow currently works as an attorney in Clinton Township.

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Information from: Lansing State Journal, https://www.lansingstatejournal.com

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