The problem with the First Amendment is supporting it -- not in theory, but in practice.

This election cycle in Idaho County has seen some comments, commentary and advertisements that have generated outrage and anger.

In your opinion, that is rightly so. That letter writer or that advertisement was way off base; it wrongly characterized the person, used tortured logic to imply wrongdoing, and it distorted the facts … if there were any facts in that piece of garbage to begin with. Right?

Yes, well, that’s freedom of speech for you. Sometimes you agree, but oftentimes, it wasn’t worth the time you put in to read it.

Speaking from our corner of Idaho County, our job is to provide a platform for residents to get their information and opinions out. Part of that entails letters to the editor, guest opinions and advertisements whereby people can exercise their freedom of speech on issues important to them.

To ensure the integrity of that process, it provides a review by the editorial board that such content, for example, doesn’t violate basic community standards and that it isn’t libelous. Many news organizations provide the same standards of review, and part of this is also consistency; applying these standards fairly to each piece of content that comes in.

We’re just like you; we see things come through that we feel are complete and utter garbage. But if it doesn’t violate set standards, that content receives the same consideration for publication as something we’d find wholly acceptable.

Why are we running these items? We value a free exchange of ideas, that opinions are better expressed so the issues they raise may be discussed in a public forum. We ensure submissions are signed, as people need to stand behind what they say, rather than pitch rocks from behind a fence of anonymity.

You may not agree with the stories we run, the opinions we give, the advertisements we print.

That’s ok. Our readers let us know that, and this feedback is part of the job.

But that content – the good, the bad and the “Why did they decide to print that?!” will continue to print.

Why? We’d rather that you have the opportunity to review and judge all these with your own understanding and experiences --  to hash out the merits and thrash out the chaff -- rather than exercise arbitrary and inconsistent content filtering to give you just what feeds your comfort zone or your political leanings.

Free speech should make us angry, but it should also make us think, consider whether we know it all or perhaps we’re wrong, and it should spur us to action to find out more.

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