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Gary Horton: Free speech, free minds

Full Speed to Port!

Posted: December 12, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 12, 2012 2:00 a.m.

This past Sunday, a stalwart Republican gal from our church stopped by the coffee counter where I was chugging caffeine and inquired, “Where did my Full Speed To Port column go in the Signal?” As a staunch right-winger, she pretty much hates most of it, but nonetheless missed its publication for whatever enjoyable Wednesday frustration it had long been providing.

It’s certainly nice to know one’s missed, and this kind Republican woman even went on to add, “While I don’t agree with most things in your column, I do agree with increasing aspects.” So maybe this “labor of love and not for money” isn’t entirely for naught, after all. Heck, I bet I’ve turned more boot-step Republicans into thinking Democrats than Steve Lunetta has turned thoughtful Democrats into thoughtless Republicans…

So, where did this Beacon of Light column disappear? Truth is, I ran afoul of Signal management over a sensitive internal communication issue. But when we finally got around to discussing the matter I agreed with their position, we came to a common understanding, and happily, the SCV can breathe easily again because Full Speed To Port is back up, spreading truth and reason to a hungry readership. Whew! That was a close encounter with extended syndicated mediocrity on our Op/Ed page!

A vibrant exchange of a wide range of views is not only interesting it’s also critical to development of ideas and to the promotion of democracy. Take away our Op/Ed pages, take away honest TV news, or ditch rational, fair-minded web blogs and we’re facing a future of further political and ideological polarization.

You and I have already witnessed too much obstructing polarization of Congress and few of us hope to see it continue. We start fixing the problem by opening our own minds and then pressuring fellows like intransigently doctrinaire Republican Buck McKeon.

The wisest among us openly consider opposing ideas without filtering or censoring content through our own opinions until we’ve fully absorbed and weighed the arguments and facts. A good Op/Ed section allows us to exercise our minds and expand our understanding through this process.

We can always recalibrate back to our default sensibilities, but the exercise of reading and considering opposing ideas simply makes us better thinkers, better citizens, better neighbors, and in the end, better friends.

(Intelligent) man certainly does not live by Fox News alone, but by every word that proceeds from these very Signal Editorial pages…

So, even my stalwart Republican church friend appreciates my sometimes flame throwing column. And while I despise his notoriously fake and creepy “Uncle Earl,” I find myself regularly praising columnist Steve Lunetta for his insight on the topics of our day. Noted management guru, Ken Blanchard is fond of saying, “None of us is as smart as all of us.” The short of it is that sharing ideas breeds better ideas.

Of course, Republicans can be wrong and these days usually are. Oh yes, dead wrong! The Iraq War is a gigantic example of murderously wrong Republican leadership taking our entire nation astray. I’m proud to say that Full Speed to Port fought furiously against that war from before it even began.

And to its credit, when speaking out against that war was nearly treasonously politically incorrect, the Signal dutifully and faithfully printed Full Speed columns, week in and week out. And when Favorite Son Buck McKeon was found way on the wrong side of right and Full Speed to Port repeatedly lassoed the Buckster, sometimes excessively, still the Signal hung tight for free speech and printed those harsh columns.

Meanwhile, out there in blog land, some have complained Full Speed to Port has gone soft on McKeon, soft on the Signal, and generally soft overall. Yes, five years of recession may have taken the edginess off; that much I’ll concede.

But writing 400 columns over eight years also brings wisdom, and the wisdom I’ve learned is to listen before you speak, consider all sides before you write, write from the heart as well as the mind, be friends when you can, remain fair always, and should the time come when a correction or apology is due, don’t delay doing what should be done.

So, “thanks” to the variety of voices expressed on our valued Op/Ed page. “Thanks” to the supporters of Full Speed to Port. “Thanks” to a town that supports public dialogue in the Signal, KHTS, SCVTV, and our host of excellent web-based media. And “thanks” to the Signal for providing this important Town Square.

“Awesometown” may be a somewhat exuberant moniker, but at our best we can be pretty darn good together - despite, and because of, all our differences.

Gary Horton is a Valencia resident. “Full Speed to Port!” runs Wednesdays in The Signal.


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