Letter to the editor: We expect better from our local newspaper
March 14, 2019
We applaud Steamboat Pilot & Today’s Feb. 26 editorial calling for greater civility in public and political debate. As the editorial said, "it’s important that we treat one another with dignity and respect, even when we disagree."
We also agree that the Pilot should help to "create a place where constructive dialogue takes place and opposing views are welcome"… and that "it’s essential that people listen to one another, present their perspective with an emphasis on facts over emotion, focus on the common good rather than an individual agenda, refrain from personal attacks and bullying and communicate with an openness to other’s ideas."
It is because we share this common ground with one of the Yampa Valley's most significant media voices, we found ourselves greatly disappointed that, on March 6, the Pilot ran a letter to the editor from Brodie Farquhar attempting to ridicule The Steamboat Institute without a hint of factual basis or a trace of constructive dialogue.
The Steamboat Institute is highly regarded as a principled public policy nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote free and open debate on the national stage, at the state level, on colleges campuses and in communities throughout the country. As friends and supporters of the Institute, we have no issue with a fact-based rebuttal of any Institute activity, program or speaker, but empty defamation is pointless.
And let us be clear. We are not writing to respond to Mr. Farquhar. He has every right to sit at his computer 24/7 and turn his opinions into sentences and paragraphs. The issue, front and center, is the Pilot's decision to publish his letter.
This said, we view Mr. Farquhar's letter as part of a troubling trend often seen from extremists on both the left and the right, and we associate ourselves with the perspective voiced by Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Peggy Noonan of The Wall Street Journal, who recently wrote: "Social media is full of swarming political and ideological mobs. In an interesting departure from democratic tradition, they don't try to win the other side over. They only condemn and attempt to silence."
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To us, the Pilot's decision to run Mr. Farquhar's letter not only ignores the editorial standards the Pilot recently embraced but also ignites the very passions that Ms. Noonan and other thoughtful observers of our nation's politics rightly find troubling. A sampling of the online commentary around Mr. Farquhar's letter makes this point fully and forcefully.
"SI inviting right wing extremists to spew more conspiracy theories, nonsense, misinformation and destructive propaganda, …"
"the SI is both apologist and obfuscator for extreme conservatism. Freedom Forum, I believe, is simply an elaborate exercise in applying lipstick to various conservative pigs: greed, racism, vampiric capitalism, anti-Islam, mysoginy [sic], etc."
So, our message to the Pilot is this: Your editorial on civility was an important step forward. But your decision to provide a forum for Mr. Farquhar's empty defamation is two steps backward. There are letters to the editor that do not merit publication. There are participants in the online discussions who should plainly be barred. You know the standards. You have stated them. We encourage you to follow them.
In the end, our local newspaper should be better than what we are fed daily by the shabby world of cable "news" TV.
Castle Rock, Colorado
Castle Rock, Colorado