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Celebrating the First: Keillor sums up the evening

October 07. 2017 9:59PM

Guest speaker Garrison Keillor talks at the annual Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications First Amendment Awards at the Palace Theatre in Manchester on Thursday. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

One of many highlights from Thursday's First Amendment Awards at the Palace Theatre was columnist Garrison Keillor describing himself as "the south end of a northbound mule."

The Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications invited Keillor to be the featured speaker on a night celebrating and promoting the freedom of speech, and of the press. The self-described Minnesota liberal did not disappoint, using a letter to the editor we're running in the Sunday News on Sunday, Oct. 8, to demonstrate the value of a free and open exchange of ideas.

Jeff Cooper spends most of his time excoriating Keillor, his criticism of President Donald Trump, and our decision to run his weekly column. But he also praises a recent Keillor column on Amelia Earhart.

"The insults made the compliment all the sweeter," Keillor noted.

The best antidote to bad speech is more speech. That's the mission of the Loeb School, founded in 1999 by our late publisher, Nackey Loeb.

The Loeb School's classes train aspiring journalists and citizens seeking a more active role in civic life. The Loeb School not only celebrates the rights protected under the First Amendment, but promotes their use across New Hampshire.

This year's awards concentrated on our right to know what our government is doing. Like muscles, we must exercise these rights to strengthen them. We must hold our local, state, county and federal governments accountable, and prod public officials to let the sunshine in, especially when they'd prefer to operate in the dark.

Like Keillor, we welcome spirited disagreement. We certainly disagree with him often enough.

We believe we have not only a right, but a responsibility, as our mission statement reads, "To deliver trusted news, information, and resources connecting New Hampshire."


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