BY MILT THOMAS
I attended the last Downtown Friday and received many comments about this publication. What I found interesting is that people were either for or against us. Even more interesting, the people who were supportive cited specific issues on which we reported or commented. However, those who were opposed, had nothing specific in their objections other than slanderous personal attacks.
That seems to be the way to approach issues today. You are either for our position or you are the enemy. What happened to the First Amendment, you know, the cornerstone of democracy? (By the way, the Second Amendment is not the cornerstone of democracy although some would have you believe it is.)
What differentiates the United States from dictatorships is our ability to debate issues rather than have a one-size-fits-all form of government. Debate and opposing priorities are healthy for a democracy, with the result usually being something we can all live with. But bullying and demeaning people who don’t agree with you is only healthy for a dictatorship. The enemy here is not an opposing view, it is lack of respect for any view not your own.
Our great country emerged from a debate over whether we should be royal subjects or control our own destiny. Believe it or not, colonists were not all in favor of revolution and many were quite content being part of the British Empire. Even after the American Revolution, there was debate over whether George Washington should be president or king.
Today’s debates seem mired in special interests, with one side calling the other un-American. Having the debate itself is uniquely American, and everyone participating in that debate is protected by our Constitution. Senator McCarthy tried to label everyone who didn’t agree with him as a communist and when we realized he was the most un-American of all, his world came crashing down around him. It’s interesting that we have again started calling an opposing point of view as communist even though communism is all but extinct.
If you ever participated in a high school or college debate, the winner was not rewarded with a right to beat up the loser. Recently, a formal debate by foreign policy experts was held at Riverside Theatre over the question of Israel and Iran. It was an excellent example of opposing views being treated with respect because the people who engaged in that debate were Americans who understood that foreign policy is not monolithic and it is executed through negotiation, even within a political party.
Which brings us back to InsideVero. We offer news and commentary on issues important to all residents of Vero Beach and Indian River County. We know the difference between news and opinion. In depth reporting on issues like the Vero Electric sale and Indian River Lagoon is not opinion just because some people feel their view on an issue is the only one regardless of inconvenient facts.
As far as opinion is concerned, we invite anyone to contribute, even if they don’t agree with our opinion on an issue. Our only requirement is that your letters to the editor not show disrespect for those who do not necessarily agree with you.