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George Rebane: Political correctness often reduces informational content

Other Voices
George Rebane

I am responding to publisher Jim Hemig’s Feb. 12 column entitled, “Editorial page challenge accepted.”

First and foremost, thank you, Mr. Hemig, for The Union and the work you and your colleagues do to bring us our very own newspaper. After reading your editorial in some detail, there are a few points (misconceptions?) I would like to clear up.

1.) To begin, there is no one on the Right who is “mad” at you for what you publish in your privately owned and voluntarily bought/read newspaper. Being mad at the exercise of free (e.g. politically incorrect) speech is and has always been the purview of the Left. The only raised eyebrow from the Right you might get is when you print a matter of fact which is demonstrably in error. And then we simply do our best to let you and other readers know, in response to which you may still do what you will.



2.) The recent “ideology audit” of your editorial pages by the Nevada County Republican Women Federated (of which I am an associate member) was a dedicated, diligent, if not a somewhat tedious work of discovery. The women did it to retire unhelpful rumors and allegations about The Union’s political tilt that caused many to loudly voice information-free opinions.

Hewing to the “middle” yields little profit for anyone, for the middle can claim no unique principles that identify it, or even delineate its trespass to either side.

3.) While it is the much advertised claim and watchword of many media outlets to be “fair and balanced,” that is not an objective that has ever been successfully achieved to the satisfaction of divers and large cohorts of the information consuming public. The notion of “balance” requires someone to place a fulcrum under the long ideological board of editorial offerings. And a moment’s thought reveals that there is no agreement as to where it should be placed to obtain a broadly accepted balance.



4.) The notion of “fair” suffers even more from the slings and arrows of opinions that impact it from all directions. And showing that “fair” cannot be achieved in any objective and absolute sense earned mathematical economist Kenneth Arrow the Nobel Prize (its youngest recipient) and the National Medal of Science. Hubristic outlets that lay strong claim to being “fair and balanced” have either hidden agendas or count heavily on their audience being poorly read. Nevertheless, The Union can take comfort in such claims it is in good company with the likes of Fox News and others.

5.) Having said all that, The Union does provide a commendable forum for a wide variety of opinion from all quarters. And I offer that it would perform that job even better the less it tries to second guess what is fair and what is balanced for the simple reason that you cannot, no one can.

What an informed readership wants first and foremost from its newspaper’s editorial staff is a clear, purposeful, and, yes, biased statement of what you truly believe and why. And then let your respondents claim equivalent real estate to applaud or counter as they will. Hewing to the “middle” yields little profit for anyone, for the middle can claim no unique principles that identify it, or even delineate its trespass to either side.

An ideology is simply a structured and communicable belief system that in its best expression is composed of a set of coherent tenets defendable by reason. And an ideologue is an individual who is willing to communicate and defend his ideology no matter how well or poorly it is expressed.

In today’s politically correct speech, both ideology and ideologue have been assigned to the pejorative category along with many other former reasonably defined English words. But the real tragedy of political correctness is that it always reduces and sometimes even removes the informational content of our language. I respectfully urge you not to steer The Union down that muddled middle road while denying us your good and honest thoughts, no matter how subjective or opinionated some may consider them to be.

George Rebane lives in Nevada City.

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