Paul Greenberg

Just this past Sunday, we ran an interview with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's president and demagogue-in-chief, on the cover of our opinion section. If this were 1933, and we had a full interview with Adolf Hitler available, I'd run it, too. Forewarned is forearmed.

A good newspaper, I would submit, reflects a wide array of opinions and not just those we find comfortable. I can't think of a more damning description of an opinion section than "inoffensive." A newspaper so afraid of offending that it won't print anything unpopular isn't worth reading.

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I understand if you hold a different opinion, and we'd be more than happy to consider a letter to the editor from you to that effect. Feel free to join the free-for-all we try to conduct on our opinion pages. That kind of robust debate, I would submit, is what the First Amendment is all about. Come on in, the water's hot.

Freedom only for those whose views we approve, or whose views don't stray too far from our own, isn't freedom at all but a kind of echo chamber.

The increasing atomization of American opinion strikes me as dangerous. More and more Americans seem to read only publications or consult websites that mirror their own convictions/prejudices. Or tune in to a television network, whether Fox or MSNBC, that will reinforce rather than challenge their own ideas.

But we need to know not just what like-minded folk think, but what those on the other side have to say.

Who knows, we might learn something. At least about the bounds of our own tolerance. And about some of the notions being preached on the far left and many a college campus. (Or do I repeat myself?)

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Certainly the press, now known as The Media, ought to be criticized -- most of all by the press itself. The Republic is seldom safer than when its various pundits are taking out after each other -- and taking aim at every sacred bovine in sight.

So long as newspapers and commentators and writers of irate letters to the editor are at each other's throats and ideas, freedom may yet prosper. For a robust exchange of opinion is what a free country is all about--in my opinion.

Sincerely,

Inky Wretch


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.