Different viewpoints wanted, welcome on Forum page

The Forum is a place for opinions. We love to hear from a variety of people on a variety of subjects, most of them sharing different viewpoints. We don’t expect everyone to have the same concerns and beliefs. That would be pretty boring. Diversity on an opinion page is good. People should feel free to sound off and people should feel free to respond. Respectful, courteous discussion, back and fourth debate is a healthy sign. A range of outlooks are welcome.

Now, naturally, not everyone agrees with that.

One visitor to The Garden Island was a bit unhappy with a guest commentary. Not that it was factually wrong or filled with errors (and it’s funny how the same information can be interpreted entirely differently, with both sides adamant they are the ones with the correct interpretation). This visitor was more annoyed that the guest writer didn’t even live here and probably didn’t have a subscription to The Garden Island. Further, the visitor pointed out this guest writer had a recent commentary in TGI (turned out to be three months prior). Why, the visitor inquired, was it necessary to give this writer another commentary on the same subject?

It wasn’t necessary, but it is what offering a space for opinions is about

Another reader sent in some notes pointing out a letter writer had personal and legal problems and was causing some problems in the community. While the reader recognized freedom of speech, he also was of the mind that publishing letters from someone with a troubled history reflect badly on TGI, that we might want to be a little more selective in the people whose letters we print.

And we’ve had a caller say a letter writer wasn’t qualified to even voice an opinion on a subject because, based on the content of the letter, the writer was clearly ignorant on the subject on which the writer commented.

We’ve been told we should check the background of some of the people writing letters, that we should do a better job of fact-checking letters (even though opinions aren’t always based on facts), and that we shouldn’t publish letters from Trump supporters because when they voice support for Trump, it just shows how ignorant they are.

Funny, those who claim to be open-minded and accepting are so often intolerant of those who disagree with them, particularly when it comes to faith and politics.

And so it goes.

Now, writing letters to the local newspaper isn’t what it used to be. These days, many people prefer the ease and anonymity of posting online comments. Far easier and less accountability. But we continue to publish a daily Forum page to offer all people a chance to share their views on subjects at the local, state, national and international level. And we hope more people will opt to participate in public discussions like this one. Ideally, we could all listen and learn from the views of others, or perhaps at least come to a better understanding of some issues, even if we don’t agree with them.

At the least, maybe we can respectfully, agree to disagree.


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