|By G. Michael Dobbs|
I received this letter last week and thought it raised some interesting points:
"In the May 15th issue of The Reminder there is an article bylined by Natasha Clark concerning Loose Change 911. I feel this article puts your publication squarely in competition with the supermarket tabloids.
"By giving credence to this conspiracy theory you have demeaned the deaths of over 3000 people, insulted their families, discredited the United States and provided aid to those who would destroy this country. These theories have been disproved time and again, and in fact newly released video shows the aircraft hitting the Pentagon.
"We are at war with an enemy who would cut off your head and close your newspaper given a chance. I'm sure that the propagation of this type of conspiracy propaganda makes the Islamic terrorists laugh at how the liberal press is undermining our own government and the confidence of its citizens.
"You have performed one service, by pointing out who is distributing this drivel you show which side they will be on in any future conflict.
Edward J. Spellacy Jr.
Mr. Spellacy believes that, by covering a legitimate news story with a strong local angle about a topic that is debated by many people, we have descended to a level of the "supermarket tabloids."
Like all of us, he is entitled to his opinion. That's what makes this country what it is, and why I'm printing his letter, although I disagree with his conclusions.
The Loose Change 911 filmmakers are also entitled to their opinions. They chose to express them in a documentary that raises questions about one of the most significant events in American history.
Their appearance in Springfield was indeed news and Natasha Clark wrote a story that neither criticized nor praised the film and its point of view.
As the reporter, she merely told the readers what happened. Her story allowed people to either discount the issues the film raised or investigate them themselves.
Regular readers of our four weekly newspapers know that we have done quite a number of stories about the War on Terror from our local level. We have published the accounts of people from our area who are serving in that theater of combat. We have sent two staff people to California to report on how Marines from our area were being prepared for duty in Iraq. We are currently assembling "care packages" for these Marines.
Considering our activities over the past several years, it is difficult for me to accept the following statement: "By giving credence to this conspiracy theory you have demeaned the deaths of over 3,000 people, insulted their families, discredited the United States and provided aid to those who would destroy this country."
The purpose of a free press is to provide an arena for ideas, not to be a rubber-stamp.
Mr. Spellacy, like all Americans, is able to interpret what he reads in this newspaper and any other publication thanks to the Constitution.
We are obligated to report on issues from time to time that are controversial with the knowledge that we can not please all of the people all of the time.
Like it or not that's what freedom of the press is all about.
As Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1823, "The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure."