OUT ON A LIMB: First victim of Internet polls is freedom of speech

It’s always interesting to see how dearly people in a democratic country hold to the principle of free speech.

In a heated debate or argument, it’s usually the first casualty.

It’s always interesting to see how dearly people in a democratic country hold to the principle of free speech.

In a heated debate or argument, it’s usually the first casualty.

Members of country group The Dixie Chicks were lambasted when singer Natalie Maines criticized then-U.S. president George Bush and his invasion of Iraq. The backlash against the band was vigorous, vociferous and voluminous. So much for freedom of speech in the world’s greatest democracy. And don’t go thinking Canada’s any better. We can fly off the handle with the best of them.

We in the newspaper business have a vested interest in freedom of speech. Fellas like me usually have a space like this here one to fill and the expectation is that we’re going to fill it with something meaningful.

As long as it is something you agree with. Right? I exaggerate. Of course, not all readers are intolerant of opposing viewpoints. Most are willing to accept the right of others to hold a contrary point of view. But frankly, too many aren’t.

You hear it in public meetings and on radio talk shows. Anybody who has a different point of view is not only misinformed, they’re also stupid. Too many debates involve people shouting down someone with an opposing point of view. The intent is to quash any airing of a viewpoint that is misguided and moronic. At least, that’s the implication in the tone of voice people use. The message is people with the “wrong” point of view should not even be able to speak.

Which brings us to Paul Rudan. On Wednesday he expressed his opinion in this same space. Reaction to what he said has been pretty strong. In the newspaper business, that means his column was pretty successful. In fact, his column is driving readers to our website, ironically. It’s already the fourth most read story on our website. But other people are having a hard time accepting his opinion. Well, you have to, this is a democracy.

Just keep in mind that was his opinion. You don’t have to like it but as a resident of a democratic country, you do have to recognize his right to express it. Meanwhile, be aware of the difference between a column and other pieces of writing in a newspaper. A column has a name (and usually a picture) attached to it and is a personal opinion. An editorial – as seen at the top of this page – is the opinion of the newspaper. Don’t confuse the two. If you want the paper’s opinion on the World Fishing Network’s current competition, see the front page and editorial page of our March 30 edition of the Mirror.  In summary, it says get out and vote for Campbell River. And our front page photo kicked off this campaign.

Now, in my opinion, freedom of speech does have limits. Those limits lie in the deliberate persecution of ethnic and other minorities and the intentional perpetration of lies. Some people don’t even accept those limits. But I do.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Campbell River nurse looks to grace the cover of Inked magazine

‘I’m at the point in my life where I don’t care what anybody thinks anymore. I’m just going to be me.’

Witnesses assist Campbell River woman in danger

The Campbell River RCMP were called to a report of violence in… Continue reading

Reports of accused human trafficker sighted in Campbell River unsubstantiated

RCMP issue warning about the fears unproven social media reports can generate

City of Campbell River rolls out three year strategic plan

Plan is made up of six ‘pillars’ for how council will make decisions

City of Campbell River highlights benefits of fitness programs for ‘older adults’

New video features participants telling their own stories of how classes improved their lives

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Tyler Toffoli scores twice, Canucks crush Bruins 9-3

Stecher, Miller each add three points for Vancouver

Zamboni driver, 42, earns NHL win over Maple Leafs

Emergency goalie called into action for Carolina Hurricanes

Governor general says multiple solutions needed for ‘complicated’ overdose issue

Julie Payette met at a fire hall with firefighters and police officers as well as politicians and health experts

Landlord ordered to pay $11K after harassing B.C. mom to move days after giving birth

Germaine Valdez was pressured to move just a few days after giving birth by C-section to her child

Heart attacks strike B.C. husband and wife just over one year apart

Courtenay couple share personal stories to bring awareness to heart month

‘Nothing surprises us anymore:’ U.S. border officials find brain in package

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found the brain packed in a glass mason jar in a Canada Post shipment

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

Eyes on police after Trudeau orders blockades torn down, injunctions enforced

The RCMP in B.C. have sent a letter to the traditional leaders of the Wet’suwet’en Nation

Most Read