All have right to be heard, if not taken seriously
Somebody once said that the American political system was designed by geniuses so it could be run by fools without suffering permanent damage. As far as the genius of the founders goes, I can’t prove that, but I do know that they were pretty observant. They were familiar enough with human behavior to know that freedom of expression would be in jeopardy if enough ideas went against the conventional thinking or irritated certain prominent people. Consequently, they created the First Amendment to protect unpopular or critical thought and expression. Popular expression needs no protection.
Our local newspaper is coming under fire again for being biased, not reporting enough of particular events, or not accommodating certain tastes. The criticism, some of which is pretty mean-spirited, comes alike from a variety of interests and preferences. According to their thinking, quality is measured in terms of how much of the paper’s content is agreeable to a particular viewpoint or supportive of a particular ego. Reason doesn’t seem to be a factor. Maybe the publisher and the editor should wear “kick me” signs in order to facilitate ease of abuse.
It’s interesting to observe how we place great value on the pluralistic nature of our society until our pet ox gets gored by someone who disagrees with us or points out the hole in our particular bucket of logic. Based on its diverse sources of criticism, it looks to me like The Union must be doing a lot of things right.
You think the local paper has faults? Of course it does; so does the New York Times. Nevertheless, we aren’t doing badly, compared to others. For example, there recently was a story in a not-so-local paper that gave not-so-accurate coverage of one of the local politicians in an apparent attempt to conjure up some sort of image of her as a victim of nasty politics. According to that paper, all manner of low conduct is being waged in attempts to embarrass this politician.
As it turns out, the newspaper featuring the story has a personal connection to the alleged “victim,” and one might conclude that the story was more than coincidental and less than objective in content. The whole affair gives the appearance of media manipulation. In the first place, it looks like the “victim” story was contrived to gain sympathy for the subject politician. Secondly, it appears that there was a deliberate, calculated complaint to The Union about its lack of reporting of the story in an effort to gain more local coverage sympathetic to the politician involved. Fortunately, to the chagrin of the complainants, The Union followed up and stuck with the story long enough to get the entire fable out in the open. In the case of the particular politician involved, the story might have been more appropriately titled, “As Ye Sow, So Shall Ye Reap.”
The entertainment value in all this is that the paper featuring the “victim” myth presents itself as some sort of an “alternative” to the “manipulated” mainstream media. In other words, it prints only the truth while the rest of the media may or may not. These folks call themselves “progressives.” Excuse me? Based on their paper’s general content and flavor, most call it a tabloid. I would call it merely out to lunch. That’s OK. I cherish its right to print its views and its concomitant responsibility when called to account for what it prints. Put more eloquently, in the words of a true progressive, Hubert Humphrey, “the right to be heard doesn’t include the right to be taken seriously.”
I don’t know if there’s a connection or not, but some of The Union’s regular contributing columnists were upset when the editor made the decision to dispatch all of us. Evidently, certain interests have lost their soapbox, and they and their true believers aren’t pleased. I think the decision to dispense with us has potential value. It will allow more people a chance to express themselves and will curtail the monthly mantras by some of the regulars. More to the point, it offers an opportunity for all those people who complain about the paper, for whatever reason, to take advantage of all the free space opening up on the op-ed pages and to put their mouths where their money is. If you don’t, I know of a couple of guys who have some signs you can wear.
Nate Beason was a naval officer for 30 years.
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