Letter to the editor: In defense of paper’s decision to publish dissenting voices

James Tuthill

There have been two letters criticizing Summit Daily’s publication of opinions by Morgan Liddick and another questioning publishing a letter by a writer who challenged elements of Black Lives Matter. I do not write to defend either Liddick’s opinions — with which I often disagree — or the writer of the Black Lives Matter letter. I write to defend Summit Daily’s decision to publish these pieces and principles of the First Amendment.

What the objectors advocate is what is known as “prior restraint” in First Amendment parlance: impose a gag order and do not allow the person to speak. Although First Amendment protections apply to government actions and not a private party like Summit Daily, the principle is none the less essential to a free and open press. Unless the statements are clearly hateful, incite to riot or create other imminent dangers, newspapers should continue to print all perspectives.

We do not learn by hearing what we already believe; we learn by reading and hearing different and new points of view. If writers like Liddick and the author of the letter I refer to are wrong or misguided, let the public marketplace of ideas shed light on their errors or omissions as the commenters to those articles have. But it is a grave mistake to prevent them from speaking, for who will decide what is proper and what is not?

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