They say we come into this world with nothing and we leave this world with nothing. While I’ll concede the first part of that statement, I do believe we leave the world with something. Everyone has an opinion and we take those opinions to the grave.
No one can honestly say if their opinion is right or wrong, it just is what it is. You believe in something and no one is going to convince you otherwise. Or maybe you can be swayed after debating the subject, in which case I guess I applaud you for having an open mind.
As I write this I’m sitting at my desk following tonight’s O’Fallon City Council meeting. During the public comment, a resident felt the need to point out that both newspapers in town have placed a 250 word limit on letters to the editor. He felt as though that was the media stifling, or at the very least limiting, the voice of the public. That’s his opinion. But sir, if you’re reading, allow me a chance to retort.
I have never seen the O’Fallon Weekly as my personal bully pulpit to preach to the citizens of O’Fallon about what I feel about a particular subject. I’ve also, at times, gone out of my way to include viewpoints I may or may not agree with. I’ve said from the beginning that I want to create a newspaper that everyone can embrace as their own and feel a part of.
The O’Fallon Weekly has run a large ad on it’s Vantage Point pages asking readers to send in letters to the editor on pretty much any topic they wish since we launched 13 weeks ago. To date, I have received three letters to the editor and have printed all three in their entirety. Two came from city leaders and one was from the vice-president of the District 90 Board of Education. Granted, those letters were all longer than 250 words, but that leads me to my main point.
If there is one thing the O’Fallon Weekly has not done, and will never do, its stifle the voice of the public. So I invite the gentleman who spoke tonight, and everyone else, to send in a letter expressing an opinion on a subject that is important to you. While, yes, I do state to please keep letters at 250 words or less, be aware that you can go longer if you feel the need. However, I reserve the right to edit a letter that comes to me that is over 250 words if I am running low on page space. In all honestly, I will more than likely not touch a thing in your letter and print it just as you send it to me. But, just so we’re clear, if its more than 250 words, I will trim it down if I need to. If you keep it at or under 250, you guarantee that it will be printed as you send it.
The only point that I will not bend on and will not tolerate are personal attacks on anyone. I’m more than willing to present an opposing viewpoint, but the O’Fallon Weekly will not be party to bullying. So keep your letters to the issues and we’ll all get along just fine.
I’ve always enjoyed the letters to the editor page in a newspaper. A healthy debate and the free exchange of ideas helps move a community forward. I’m happy that some of our civic leaders, both at the city level and from District 90, have taken advantage of the free page space I’m offering. I hope some of the residents of O’Fallon and Shiloh begin to do the same. After all, we all have opinions.