The Journal Gazette
Friday, October 09, 2020 1:00 am

From 1991: Disagree -- just don't close your mind

Editor's note: Tina Dearing was a frequent contributor to our letters to the editor column and a five-time winner of the Golden Pen Award. She died in February. Her daughter, Jen Jonasch, refers to this letter in her accompanying piece, "Mother's wise words ring true across years." The letter was selected as Letter of the Year for 1991.

Anyone who reads the newspaper with their morning coffee will be more than happy to tell you, in graphic and explicit terms, that the editorial staff of The Journal-Gazette say and does the darndest things. I can cite a myriad of examples of faulty reasoning, stupid conclusions, intellectual inconsistencies and editorial position so far the the left that the boomerang couldn't find its way back to the middle.

But the first thing I turn to every morning before the headlines, before Ann Landers, even before the comics, is the editorial page. My very best days are when you or one of your contributors says something incredibly and certifiably idiotic. It gets my blood pumping, puts the old brain in high gear, and gets the family moving when the burning papers set off the fire alarm.

Craig Klugman's ban of yellow ribbons in the newsroom was a doozy. The whole city got its money's worth of righteous indignation that week. Joseph Weiler, executive editor of The News-Sentinel, was so excited he devoted to fiery editorials to Klugman's warped judgment. (OK, so the Sentinel doesn't do fiery. Let's call them heated.)

Klugman, realizing he was about as popular as Saddam Hussein at an American Legion fish fry, outlined his deeply held moral objections to small yellow strips of fabric used as trimming. People who I'll wager haven't written their mother in decades were suddenly moved to pen infuriated letters to the editor. I ask you, where else could everybody vent this kind of repressed hostility for 35 cents a day ($1.35 on Sunday)?

I guess that's why I've never understood the rationale of people who write the editorial page of your newspaper to cancel their subscription because your editorial stance on one subject or another does not agree with their own. Do they think that the economic impact of their $2.50 a week will cause you to reconsider your editorial policy? Or do they believe that, like the ostrich with its head in the sand, if they don't see it, it doesn't exist?

You can't occupy the moral high ground unless you have a map of the low ground. My favorite articles are the ones that ran counter to my own intellectual bent. They make me feel angry, outraged, offended and defensive, but they make me think. Thinking is an exercise we all should practice occasionally, along with our aerobics classes.

The only opinions that can hurt us are the ones we are blissfully ignorant of. If George Washington, Abe Lincoln and F.D.R. had simply cancelled their subscriptions to The London Times, the Atlanta Journal and the Berliner Morgenpost, hoping someone else would worry about freedom, equality and human rights, we'd all be drinking 4 o'clock tea while our slaves made Volkswagens.

If we become so thin-skinned that we can't tolerate or expose ourselves to an unpopular idea, if we're too lazy to pick up a pen and say, "I read what you said. I disagree. Here's why..." then perhaps we deserve a society where others do our thinking for us.

So, JEERS to all the wimps who cancelled their subscriptions. Don't you dare cancel mine. Continue to allow me the cathartic option of telling you exactly where and when to get off. I simply couldn't spend my money better.

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