EDITORIAL: What the opinion pages are and are not

July 6, 2014 

This newspaper has a long history of presenting the diverse opinions of community members on its Opinion and Viewpoints pages. These pages, which have had various other titles over the decades, are different from our news pages where opinion isn’t appropriate.

In the 1960s, when the section consisted of one page with few letters, there were still diverse opinions being shared, such as Joe Parham’s lament about lifting the national debt ceiling in 1964, a conversation that continues to rage today. The ‘60s were a tumultuous time. Fifty years ago, there was a letter to the editor that was quite creative: “Regardless of all the punk politicians, peculiar professors, numbskull newspaper men, pathetic preachers, dopey doctors, and all the lunatic liberals and hopeless hypocrites who are hiding behind progress and even Christianity, integration is not progressing as they hoped and thought it would do. With God’s help, we segregationists are going to slow it up even more.”

The Editorial Board of the Macon News took a different tack following President Lyndon Johnson’s signing of the sweeping Civil Rights Act: “Now the Civil Rights Act is a part of the law of the United States. And it must be and will be obeyed.”

How about this sentiment expressed in this letter? Does it sound familiar? “History proves that once a government becomes so involved in the affairs of its people, deciding what is right and what is wrong, it eventually dictates to the individual in everything he does.” While it may sound current, it was published a half century ago.

During our history we have published thousands of opinions not shared by all members of the Editorial Boards or by all members of the community. As you read our pages, you may find words -- and even editorial cartoons -- that make your blood boil. You’ll find columnists you’ll agree with and those you might loathe. There will be times when the Editorial Board takes an opinion you feel is downright appalling, particularly during political seasons. Fortunately, as we celebrate our nation’s birthday, we can have open and honest opinions expressed without being thrown in the Gulag.

We are, however, always open to your thoughts. We’d like to hear from you when you think our opinions or those we publish on these pages are off base. And remember, these pages are open to everyone. We ask that you mostly remain civil, although that’s subjective, and we require letter writers to identify themselves and stand behind their words, something rare in this age of social media when bloviated bloggers hide their identities.

If you have thoughts you would like to share, the requirements are printed Sunday through Friday at the top of the Viewpoints page.

The Telegraph is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

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