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For a small Kentucky community, Spencer County has had its fair share of news coverage from TV and big-city newspapers recently. We have a county judge under scrutiny for his credit card habits, a pending wet/dry vote and $11,700 still unaccounted for in the high school’s activities fund.
And despite all this controversy, letters to the editor have been slim. I'm perplexed.
Surely, these – and other issues concerning our nation at large – are being talked over at diners all over town. Some topics may even trigger heated debates.
I can almost picture a table full of gray-headed men gathering around their usual morning pit stop. A circle of cigarette smoke hovering above them. A wise-cracking waitress refilling their cups. She wonders aloud, "Just where are ya'll putting this coffee? You men are gabbing to much to actually be drinking it."
As the breakfast bunch debates the news of the day, each believes he has the answers. Cut taxes. Raises taxes. Get that one out of office and put this other one in. They argue. Sometimes they agree. But they aren't afraid of making their opinions known.
Change the scenery and characters and this could be played out just about anywhere. In offices. On the job site. Over the dinner table. People talking about the news of the day, sharing their opinions and maybe even coming up with good solutions.
A community newspaper's opinion page serves as one more outlet were citizens can freely debate issues they feel are important. It's not a place to publicly carryout a vendetta or humiliate people you disagree with, but an opportunity to civilly express one's views in an attempt to sway others.
During my past year as editor of the Spencer Magnet it has taken a tremendous amount of effort to write about my opinion. My apprehension was based in the believe that no one cared what Robin Bass thought. Who am I to tell others what to think? I have a modest education. I haven't travel much. There has been no accomplishment in my life that I would consider worthy of proclaiming to the world.
Then, one day I realized that nearly all of us fall into a similar category. Most of us are simple people who are not caught up in strutting our feathers like a proud peacock. And, yet, that does not mean that what we think or how we feel is unworthy. It is a basic human right to be able to voice one's opinion – no matter how unpopular. Free speech is so invaluable that our founding fathers made sure it played a significant role in our nation's constitution. I would even say that voicing one's opinion is our civic duty.
Those who we have elected to represent us in government need to be reminded once in a while exactly who they are working for. Taxpayers do have a say in where their money is spent, and that fact should be transferred to any organization that receives public funding: school districts, emergency services, public works departments, parks departments, etc.
As for the lack of letters to the editor, my hope is that many Spencer Countians are simply enjoying this unseasonably cool summer – rather than abandoning their post as civilian watchdogs. Some say ignorance is bliss, but apathy is a dangerous mind sedative that can quickly turn a country over to power-hungry politicians with anyone but the common man in his thoughts.