The majority of our columns lean to the right, not by design but because those are the beliefs of the columnists who write for the Press.
Many of our columnists are local, and none gets paid. We don’t tell them what to write or what opinions to extoll.
In some cases, of course, the columnists write about things other than politics; they write about art, religion, social issues and any number of topics.
The words are their own.
The Press would welcome some more left-leaning columnists to present a more balanced view, but currently there are none willing to present their viewpoints for print.
In an indirect way, that leads us to the point of this editorial. Last week, a reader called to complain about the contents of a column that appeared in the Press. The caller thought the column was outrageous and asked why it was printed.
The column was not libelous and did not fit any criteria by it should be left out of the paper. Yet, because the caller believed the column was offensive to his beliefs, he thought the column should not have seen the light of day. We were surprised and disappointed by the caller’s opinion.
It’s called “opinion,” which is defined as “an estimation of the quality or worth of someone or something.”
It doesn’t have to be the estimation of every reader. Heck, it might be the opinion of just one person, the author. But the author has the temerity to put his or her opinion on it.
A couple of years ago, the Press dared to run a letter to the editor from a reader who opined that a well-known local restaurant was not that great, and he didn’t know why people were showering it with praise. A friend of the restaurant owner upbraided the Press for publishing the letter, saying it should have been thrown in the trash.
That was his “opinion.”
The Press doesn’t throw any letter in the trash, provided it meets a few criteria: It is written by an area resident or former area resident (in other words, it’s not written by someone from Timbuktu writing about a non-local issue), it is not libelous and it contains the letter writer’s name and telephone number to call to verify authorship. (The phone number is not published.)
Elsewhere on this page appears a letter to the editor from a reader expressing disagreement with the same column. And that is fine. The writer is disagreeing, not saying the column should have been left out.
America, while supposedly becoming more tolerant, has become just the opposite. Unfortunately, the belief of many is that the opinions of others with which they disagree should be shouted down, met with violence or placed in a deep, dark hole. Blame it on Fox News or CNN or MSNBC or various blowhards over the radio waves. There is no tolerance for someone else’s opinion.
In her book “The Friends of Voltaire,” which is about the life of one of the leaders of the French Enlightenment, Evelyn Beatrice Hall wrote, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
Hall said that while Voltaire may have never said those words, it reflected his beliefs. More of us need to pause and reflect on them.
Allowing someone to state an opinion that is contrary to theirs should not spark outrage.