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Time for a moratorium on small-mindedness

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POSTED June 20, 2009 1:13 a.m.
Editor  Manteca Bulletin,
Every morning as I skim through our paper for town news, I force myself to glance at the Opinion section, hoping against hope that I will see the name of a new writer at the bottom of a non-divisive and thought-provoking editorial opinion. However, it’s usually the same tired rhetoric from members of the “label club” - you know, those who label others in a disparaging way to elevate themselves (i.e. Republicans, Democrats, Liberals, Conservatives, various definitions of “Christians”, etc). I was heartened one day recently to actually see a direct opinion about all this from Louie Parra. I was beginning to wonder if it was just me, or if there is a conspiracy at the Bulletin to only publish opinions with virtual spittle spewing forth from the authors. Sometimes they start out slow, but inevitably work themselves into a frothing frenzy as they become more convinced of their own righteousness, hammering out self-serving factoids and speculative, asumptive absolutes against others.

Progress was made on June 16, when there was a blank space on the page - could it be, I wondered, that this was a message from the Bulletin saying, “site under construction - better things to come”? Sadly, no, as evidenced by the continuing blather over subsequent days.

I am convinced that no opinions are ever changed by these editorials - people just read these and say, “wow, I’m glad I’m a (fill in the label).”  I’m also convinced that this is a sweet deal for the Bulletin - get others to fill the space and then you don’t have to come up with newsworthy articles, or spend money on additional professional pieces from UPI or Reuters.
I will wager that most of these contributors have open hours in their day, for whatever reason. Who else has time to even thoroughly read these sagas about self-aggrandizement, much less compose 250+ words, sometimes daily, about every worn-out concept that promotes factionalism? Isn’t there a better way to use this precious time?

As a solution, I would propose that Dennis Wyatt implement a moratorium on small-mindedness. While I do not done condone censorship, I see no point in keeping the slugfest going between these local “literary giants”. A newspaper should not be a venue for amateur soapbox journalism. Mr. Wyatt, with this in mind,  for the next few weeks, try only allowing infrequent and/or new writers to submit opinions, or habitual writers only if they don’t label and judge; if they can present new, fresh topics, ideas that represent the bridging of intellectual or cultural gaps. Include opinions about thoughtful concepts that promote humility, openness and self-examination. Best of all, invite all of the various “labels” to dinner, and then write about the common threads when their editorial guards are down; write about whatever they have done through their career or other social commitment to make a better world. These individuals can be encouraged to enhance their self-worth not by staying in their comfort box, but by looking through a surprisingly different lens. It may make the “Opinions” section smaller, and require more staff elbow grease, but that’s good copy.
 Pat Silva
June 18, 2009
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