For a free press

Let’s start off speaking to the elephant in the room: Van Buren County, for reasons that are complex if not difficult to fathom, is able to host three newspapers.

This is, simply, amazing. In an era where reports of big-city newspapers laying off, rolling back, if not shutting down, we’ve managed to find ourselves in a space where readers have a choice of three newspaper. Now, obviously, we have one paper in particular we feel is the best choice for your information needs (and since this column is on page 4A and not easily browseable while waiting in line at a checkout: Thank you for your support). But let’s - all - take a moment here and appreciate what it means to be in a community blessed in such a way. We live in a land of freedom, in fact just passed a holiday celebrating this freedom, and one of the markers of that freedom is a free press.

That means something. It meant something when Washington was President, it meant something when Benjamin Franklin was printing pamphlets in favor of a Declaration of Independence, it meant something as others, great and small, have, do and will continue to debate the course of democracy in the pages of a freely administered press in a free counter.

And note at no point does it say a freely administered press “that you will like.” Maybe, dear reader, in this weird mish-mash of information and opinion colliding in our modern world’s take on journalism, you might not like what you read. Heck, you might not like what you’re reading right now. Just as we are allowed the freedom to print, you are allowed the freedom to react, and of course freedom to form and hold an opinion. God bless America.

Other countries with a state press or otherwise oppressive government, people don’t have this freedom, and the information isn’t laid out there for them to make their own decision. (By the way, quick aside here, have you ever noticed who people who fault the press due to some charge of “agenda” are always those who see the agenda - it’s right there in front of them - but are concerned how others who aren’t as smart as they are will react to what they’re seeing?)

But on to our point: We recently became aware via social media that a competing newspaper had one of its newspaper boxes vandalized. A note was hung on the box (we’re not sure what it said) and something we saw in the picture was used to block any ability to put coins in the box and purchase a paper.

That was wrong, that was more than “just” wrong, that was an affront to the very idea of a free press. Now granted, it may have been a consumer upset about a loss of 75 cents, or it may have been someone of darker press-blocking intent. Regardless, there is, in such matters, no good reason for what took place and especially as it is an attack on something especially American.

Second Saturday

This Saturday, courthouse square under the big tree, 9 a.m. to Noon we’re going to play music. No amps, no mics, bring a chair, listen or play, let’s have some fun.

Psalm 5:11-12 (NIV)

11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad;

let them ever sing for joy.

Spread your protection over them,

that those who love your name may rejoice in you.

12 Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous;

you surround them with your favor as with a shield.