Letters to the Editor and lost sleep
By Daniel Tyson
Letters to the Editor are tricky and cost many editors many hours of lost sleep, including me. Last week we ran a Letter to the Editor that I okayed for publication with trepidation. And rightly so; I was called out for publishing it.
While working at home late last week, I read the letter several times and each time wished not publishing it was an option. However, not to publish the letter would have deprived the writer his voice. I have to trust readers know what is fact and what is rhetoric.
As a newspaper we are here to give all people a chance to voice their opinion, even if the majority of the public disagrees with that opinion. I cannot silence someone just because I disagree with their opinion. If I did, I would be violating the cornerstones of my industry, free speech and press.
With these freedoms comes responsibility. At larger papers, editors simply toss such letters. But at a community newspaper, it’s not that simple. Community papers have a responsibility to readers to bring different opinions to them, within acceptable bounds. We would not publish a Letter to the Editor that includes profanity, personal attacks or libelous statements– those letters have no reason to be printed. Often, community newspapers are the only news outlet in the area that allows citizens to air their views.
While last week’s letter was riddled with questionable statements, I didn’t think, in the end, despite worries, it merited being tossed. It did not include cursing or libelous statements, personal attacks against individuals or specific organizations.
This week we are running a letter reminding me of my responsibilities. Mr. Bordetsky is absolutely correct when he advised me to “consider your responsibility to the community carefully…” I appreciate his advice. I do take this responsibility seriously. But I cannot deny someone voicing their opinion, even if filled with eye-rolling statements.
Nothing upsets me more than people yelling “fake news.” If newspapers withheld Letters to the Editors that were unpopular then people could correctly yell that, but publishing diverse opinions that reflects how people perceive events, allows the press to combat those chants of “fake news.” By publishing Letters to the Editor, we give both sides an option to have their say.
Daniel Tyson is editor of The Fincastle Herald and The Vinton Messenger.
Writer laments the death of the country
It is with a very heavy heart that I ask for your condolences and sympathies for the death of our country, as we have known it.
We no longer have:
• freedom of speech
• the confidence our votes will be counted as written
• the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness (jobs and businesses)
• faith in our government leaders to keep us, their constituents, in mind as they legislate away our rights
• a fair and balanced judicial system, now having two separate sets of rules and standards for our citizens
• faith that we are told the truth by media and politicians
Our legislators are shredding our Constitution just as Speaker of the House, Representative Pelosi, tore up President Trump’s State of the Union Address.
The United States of America
July 4, 1776 – November 3, 2020
Reader says Buchanan’s letter was inflammatory
According to its Letter to the Editor policy, The Fincastle Herald welcomes opinions “as long as the submissions are not in bad taste and refrain from attacking individuals without supporting documentation or a rational and legally defensible justification.” I submit that the long screed by Timothy Buchanan in last week’s Herald was so far beyond bad taste, so filled with attacks without rational justification, that the best word to describe it is inflammatory, straight from the playbook of Donald Trump.
Regarding the recent rioting in the Capitol, Mr. Buchanan would have us believe that the culprits were three. First, “the police were the aggressors antagonizing, abusing the MAGA crowd” who had “organized to protest systemic voter fraud in the November elections” and had simply assembled on the 6th of January, prior to the police aggression, for “prayers, songs, and patriotic chants.”
Second, it was really members of Antifa, wearing red MAGA hats, who were stirring up trouble to make a good president look bad.
Third, bearing the most culpability were the congressmen and senators who had the audacity to be certifying a crooked election “allowing the rights of the people to be stolen.”
These assertions would be ludicrous if they were not dangerous, in effect constituting a call to armed insurrection. Might we not wonder why there was no mention in the letter of speakers whipping up the crowd beforehand, culminating in the President himself urging them not to take it anymore, to be strong, to march to the Capitol? “Demand that the Congress not count the votes,” he exhorted. “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore!”
If call to armed insurrection seems hyperbolic, listen to Mr. Buchanan near the end of his long letter of grievance. “Wrong cannot be permitted to perpetually triumph. For this reason, the suggestion that there is never a place for violence to establish righteousness or to reclaim stolen constitutional freedom is as foolish as it is cowardly…Great social changes often require the force of violence to enact.” Note that the cause he calls noble in his letter is based on the absolutely false claim, spawned by the President, refuted by every court in the land including those presided over by Trump-appointed judges, that we did not just have a REMARKABLY FREE AND FAIR ELECTION.
The wonder is not that Donald Trump, terrified at the prospect of being seen as a loser, proclaimed far ahead of the election that it would be rigged (unless of course he won) and after November 3 that it was “the most corrupt election in the history of the country, maybe in the world.”
This undermining of our democracy sadly should not surprise us having listened to this man for the last four years, longer actually if we remember the birther conspiracy that he spawned to discredit Obama. The wonder is that so many otherwise rational citizens blindly follow him. Might a reluctance to let go of a belief in white supremacy possibly have anything to do with it?
Let me close with one point, the corrosiveness of lies, on which Mr. Buchanan and I agree. His way of accenting the speed of a lie: “A lie can now compass the earth before the truth leaves the harbor.” My way of accenting the power of a lie: “If you tell a lie long and loudly enough, you’ll find people who will swallow it hook, line and sinker.” If anything can bring our painfully divided country together, it will be remembering the mystic chords that bind us and then calling on our deeply shared passion for truth the only sure foundation we can stand on.
Editor needs to consider responsibility to community
It would seem at this point it might just be easier to give Timothy Buchanan his own column since following nearly any political news of consequence you are eager to print objectivity false ramblings of a man whose ability to perceive reality was long ago given up for a Kafkaesque view of the world tinted in red, white and blue and set to the Rambo soundtrack.
The events that took place at the Capitol will represent an opportunity for government to justify further surveillance and state violence against citizens in the name of protecting us from “domestic terrorism.” It is in this way that the losers who broke into the Capitol to take selfies and steal souvenirs have not saved us from tyranny, but rather damned us to more of it.
If I was you, I would consider seriously the damage that is being done to this community by continued publication of viewpoints that are entirely untethered from anything resembling reality that Mr. Buchanan seems so uniquely adept at representing. In doing so, you are further exposing the people of this region of a continued onslaught of partisan lies that are eroding the democratic foundations of this nation and, as we saw, leading to radicalization.
If people like Mr. Buchanan continue to sow their cancerous oats, I fear the United States will be Balkanized within my lifetime, or at least fall into a slow burning conflict resembling The Troubles in Northern Ireland, which saw political violence unfold daily for nearly 40 years. Are we ready for attacks on the Capitol by political actors to be a regular occurrence? Because that’s where we are headed unless we can collectively dial back the temperature.
Consider your responsibility to this community carefully, Editor, and that you are not contributing to its erosion.
Valor in the midst of a mob
Two United States congressmen from this area of Virginia were participants of a delaying action to prevent the counting of electoral votes. This allowed time for a mob to arrive.
The use of a mob provides a cover for the aim of the destruction of the electoral votes. This was prevented by people who realized the purpose of the mob invasion and hid the box containing the electoral votes. The action of these people prevented the destruction of these electoral votes which allowed Congress to finish the vote after the mob was gone. The people who saved the box of electoral votes should be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
VFW: ‘Veteran’s monuments are important and relevant’
The Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 1841, Daleville wishes to express our concerns with the Committee on Monuments and Memorials proposal to remove the Civil War monument from the county courthouse. We understand the stated intent of the move would be to establish a monument in a proposed “veterans park” at a new location. As we’ve seen with other government efforts, proposals without funding or public support can often languish uncompleted.
Much has been said about the history of the war and this particular monument. As a veteran service organization we do not take a position on the causes of that conflict. But we recognize that over 600,000 men perished in that brutal war and we remember their sacrifices. It is always the soldier that bears the cost of war. After the war, there were efforts made at reconciliation, including a 1958 change in U.S. code that recognized persons who served in the Confederate forces as U.S. veterans. The men recognized by the monument were soldiers, right or wrong, and their sacrifices deserve to be remembered.
Veterans’ monuments are important and relevant today because they encourage us and our posterity to remember our history and those who served. The monument in front of the county courthouse is a public display that should remind us all of the cost of war. It should stay in place.
Commander, VFW Post 1841