As the country continued to spiral out of control with a pretend president whose election is as illegitimate as he is unhinged and with the uncertainty of national collapse only a matter of timing, retreat into the idyllic American Rockies in the hopes of escaping the tyranny threatening the rest of the country has provided little satisfaction.
The dilemma is how a conscientious, well-meaning citizen, concerned about the direction of the country and who has a deep commitment to preserving what remains of the Constitution and yet, who wants their voice heard, is able find an opportunity to express their own truth. Even as La Plata County, home to Durango in the southwest, succumbed to the partisan dictates of a health industry dominated by Big Pharma and the over-reach of a heavy-handed Health Director, how does a minority population participate in a rational discussion on local affairs or partake in a lucid conversation with community officials. It was no small matter for one feisty restauranteur (CJ’s Diner) to have successfully challenged the official Covid narrative as he slipped through the maze of legal threats to run his own business unfettered by government interference.
It is, however, with great dissatisfaction to realize that the once heterogenous vibrancy of a Rocky Mountain town is now being strangled by the narrow-minded, one-sided intransigence, as a deliberate denial of conservative or traditional values, by its local newspaper.
The insular partisan crowd found validation in a recent Durango Herald column entitled “Authoritarianism” which defines a “people who cannot tolerate complexity” and are ‘suspicious of people with different ideas’ as it is ‘allergic to fierce debate” and, in conclusion, pointed the finger at ‘the US, under Donald Trump.” The presumption of the op ed appears to be that the referenced breed of authoritarians can be found in a generation of Trumpers while supposing that Democrats are the most open minded and best-informed citizens in the whole wide world. Having been a lifelong Democrat until 2016 and currently a registered Independent, my experience has been quite the opposite; that any attempt to have an exchange of factual opinion with a Dem frequently falls on deaf ears. While they may be able to recite a headline, they are incapable of sustaining a give-and-take conversation and have a woeful shortage of details or facts to support their opinion. Too often, an irrational hatred of Trump, largely based on absent forensic evidence, will rear its head as the Dems shutdown any attempt to share as if you are the stupid one who does not understand.
With an abundance of black-and-white clippings, there is a widespread dissension among the political minority fostered by the DH and its staff who give no indication that they value the most sacred of all the amendments. Freedom of Speech was designated as the First Amendment for a reason; that all other amendments depend on a vital functioning First Amendment to protect and safeguard the entire Bill of Rights. Instead the local DH has repeatedly shown little to no regard in offering a fair, unbiased opportunity to inform the public.
It is elementary to consider that the reason to censor is because the item being censored is factual; and, therefore, would contradict the prevailing narrative. If the facts did not support the censored item then why bother to censor it and why not allow the public to decide for themselves what is fact and what is fiction. Hence, the presstitutes act in their own self-interest as authoritarians which is to stifle every iota of information—just to be on the safe side that nothing true and valid slips through. This brand of thinking is alive and well not just with the mainstream media but as rural media is also in the business of controlling news output.
Just as in any small town, the daily newspaper is an essential hub, representative of the diverse elements in any community. That the newspaper is relied on to connect those elements into one fundamental core of kindred spirits sharing the same real estate just as the sanctity of LTE’s (letters to the editor) is where each citizen has an opportunity to vent and rant as a vital interaction between members of the public, those diverse elements and the larger group of civic society. The sharing of one’s opinion, unrestrained and authentic, is a basic tenet of a free and open democracy.
So when the flow of that communal interaction breaks down, division within the community has lost a vital sense of togetherness, its own identity fractured when only one narrative is acceptable to the entire spectrum of community members. That is what the DH now refers to as an existing community ‘rift,” mindless of their own contribution to create that rift. This is how mainstream media controls public opinion and influences issues on a national scale. Dems who live in a totally different reality respond as if ‘golly gee, we don’t understand why this rift exists’ and why civic life is less than harmonious.
For instance, examples of how that ‘rift’ became a pattern include LTEs that do not fit the accepted narrative are frequently unacknowledged as if they had never been submitted for publication and therefore are not printed—or an author will be hassled by an editor who insists that fact-checking is part of monitoring LTEs and that all letters must meet a prescribed standard for truth—or an LTE will be liberally edited with a paragraph rewritten or replaced to fit the preferred narrative.
At the same time, LTEs that represent the Democratic view of life, regardless of whether they are factual or semi hysterical attacks, frequently find their way in print. Needless to say, this kind of capricious behavior does not make for favorable community relations as the Herald has experienced a dramatic drop in its subscriptions, no longer able to sustain daily print editions. The ratio of Democratic oriented letters to Republican letters is seriously out of whack to even the most objective observer.
In a recent election to the La Plata Electric Association (LPEA), the voter turnout was a measly 24% which was a direct reflection on how the lack of news coverage was glaring with no questions asked as to why the challengers were opposing the status quo candidates. It is that sort of exploitation depriving the public from an informed analysis that affected the lack of public interest and the final vote as well as no awareness of a corrupt conflict of interest. As its editors exhibited a lack of journalistic curiosity in failing to perform basic, fundamental commentary and yet meddled (in absentia) in the democratic process, sounds like the DH has turned a totalitarian corner.
Fortunately, there is a massive public awakening occurring which is why La Plata County, once a Democratic stronghold, now boasts 15,000 registered Independents with the Dems trailing and Republicans bringing up the rear. It is now up to the Republicans to provide quality candidates and issue-oriented policies while the Dems continue to prove how they have been co-opted by a ‘liberal’ fascist takeover, except to the Democrats themselves.
As we celebrate the Anniversary of 56 white men who put their lives on the line by signing a document of timeless wisdom, they established the “unalienable” individual right of freedom for every American citizen—into posterity. When the spiritual intent of those rights, endowed by Our Creator, are abridged in a small Rocky Mountain town, they are abridged for all of us.
Renee Parsons served on the ACLU’s Florida State Board of Directors and as president of the ACLU Treasure Coast Chapter. She has been an elected public official in Colorado, an environmental lobbyist for Friends of the Earth and a staff member of the US House of Representatives in Washington DC. She can be found at firstname.lastname@example.org.