The hardest part of writing this column is not the writing, finding a topic, or even staying within my 650-word limit. I usually write about four articles for every article I turn in for print. There is nothing wrong with the articles I don’t submit, but I am limited to one message in The Expositor per week.
I struggle choosing which article to submit. Often, I find myself writing a response to Troy Smith’s articles or discussing a topic that recently entered the national consciousness. I abandon previously written articles in favor of something more timely or reactive. Troy’s last article made the point that sometimes it is all about making money. The Expositor wants to sell papers and advertising after all. Let me explain that I have no financial stake in anything I write. I do not get paid for writing this column. I enjoy seeing local news in The Expositor, but I have no monetary interest in how the paper does. Troy also mentioned that there are sometimes other reasons why some stories do or don’t make the news. Of course, he used examples that make groups he opposes look like the ones guilty of doing this. Perhaps that was part of his plan. Showing through example, how omission can be used to influence.
I don’t write something because I belong to a political party, and I don’t have to worry about repercussions from the academic community because I’m not an academic. I don’t have to worry about offending the church because I don’t belong to a church. People have been talking about me and hating me for most of my life. Some criticism is earned and well-deserved. I admit it and own it. I am not normal.
People who know me know my heart. When I say, “Think for yourself,” I truly mean it. I don’t expect that if you do, we will automatically agree. In fact, I realize that I am possibly wrong about many things. I am counting on your independent thoughts to correct me when I am mistaken. I don’t want to ban “fake news” and “false information” because I don’t believe that any individual or group can be trusted to censor discussion and debate. I want every voice heard, no matter how wrong or offensive. We get to choose for ourselves which voices we heed. I know that some of you may believe that I am writing about someone specific or attacking one political viewpoint. I present one overarching idea in this column, and I am speaking to every individual who reads it. I want to empower each of you to think for yourself. It sounds simple enough, but I promise that it isn’t. Sometimes I feel like I’m talking to a wall. If you are reading this and you still believe that red on the map is good and blue is bad, or that Republicans are rich racists, then you are proving my point.
I have heard Troy attacked for his political and academic affiliations, but Troy writes what he believes and supports. I openly oppose Troy’s positions at times, and sometimes I am exasperated that he writes what he does. I write what I believe and support also. I am sure that he gets just as frustrated with me at times. I don’t oppose Troy and am not competing with him. I am not trying to convince Democrats to become Republicans or vice versa. That is the real difference between me and almost every other opinion writer, including Troy. I don’t have to convert anyone to succeed, and I don’t need you to believe or trust in me to make my point. I only need to convince you that you can decide for yourself. If you read what I write and decide that I am an idiot, that is OK. At least you were thinking for yourself.
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