The Founding Fathers, after they had drafted the Constitution, immediately set about amending it, trying to redress some ongoing disputes they had waged during their convention in Philadelphia. They had finally agreed that the Constitution itself needed to be the articles of incorporation of the new nation, the amendments would be the guiding philosophies.
The very first amendment, and therefor the one that they felt was most important to state, concerned freedom of religion, speech, the press, assembly and the right to petition. Oddly, the Constitution and the amendments were originally designated as only federal guidelines, not intended for the states. It would not be until the passage of the 14th amendment that the federal government finally made clear that no state should pass laws that abridge or diminish rights granted by the federal government.
But, I digress.
There are, on occasion, things in the news media that people do not like. There are articles that we disagree with and editorials that prickle our skin. There are entire publications and shows that seem to serve only to agitate and foment dissent. But, our right to free speech and a free press means that it is that very chorus of dissonant voices that is important to our growth. Without discussion and debate, opinions are formed based upon singular viewpoints, thus failing to take into account all of our varied population.
With our own little weekly newspaper, we make as studied an attempt to present opposing viewpoints as is possible. That means that I often publish articles, columns or letters that I find distasteful; but, feel that it is important that readers have access to those opinions so that they may form their own thoughts on the issues rather than only having one aspect or point of view.
Some people, mistakenly, tell me that they know I had no choice and that I had to publish something. We are a privately held business, and we do not HAVE to publish anything that we feel violates our own ethics. But, we are also members of the "fourth estate," empowered by the Constitution to keep the citizenry informed. It is our job, even our duty, to allow as many voices as we can to participate in the debate.
Keep in mind, I can, and do, cut off those discussions and debates when I feel they are no longer being constructive or useful. I have bumped columnists for offensive content. I have refused publication of letters. I have opted not to accept advertisements. I have run things that offended readers; but, that also awakened them to other voices. I have run things that have offended advertisers; and, have had to weather the storm until things calmed down.
I often proudly remind our readers that we are YOUR newspaper. It may be privately owned; but, it is your participation and your thirst for the truth that drives us to continue every week publishing yet another edition.
I thank the Founding Fathers for their wisdom in realizing that an informed populace would be the surest way to keep the Republic honest, the citizens involved, and the nation strong.
It’s all just my opinion.