”I don’t care what people may think of me, just so long as they think.” — William Loeb
This quote from former Union Leader Publisher William Loeb hangs on the wall of our office. Loeb was a complicated and controversial figure who was most comfortable stirring the political pot. This quote best exemplifies why. He abhorred complacency of ideologies, and we have several literal tons of his personal correspondences that were his way of ensuring that ideas would keep flowing.
There is a great desire by many to consider some opinions as “settled science.” This phrase is a common refrain heard in the climate debate, as if a critical mass of agreement can obliterate dissenting voices. The irony here is that the study of science is designed to never be settled. If it were then the Earth would still be at the center of the universe as well as being flat. After all, there was so much consensus around these “facts” that it should have been “settled science” there and then.
Luckily for humanity that science was not settled. Opinions are also never settled. As much as many of us would like to “move past” certain topics it will never happen. Opinions are not formed by consensus; they are formed by each individual’s experience of the world. Just ask the “flat earthers.” They still exist.
If opinions could be treated as “settled science” then America’s racial discussion might have ended with the Civil Rights Act or the Emancipation Proclamation. As the past weeks have shown, this discussion is far from over. There is clearly quite a bit about the Black experience that many of us do not understand, and thankfully the conversation continues.
We pride ourselves on presenting a wide range of opinions including those with which we, and many of our readers, may disagree. Our New Hampshire Voices sections devote more space to opinions that are not our own. Reading the opinions and experiences of others is how wider understanding is reached. Angry Facebook comments and copy and pasted Tweets have become the digital version of shouting someone down. While it may feel good to silence opinions you disagree with, it does not make those opinions disappear. Only true understanding can do that.
The internet and cable television have created too many pockets where unpopular opinions can hide and fester, free from dissenting voices that can lead to greater understanding for all. In these places you will not find the clear distinction between news and editorial opinion that you see at the top of this page. Instead you will see opinion permeating every aspect of coverage.
We think our readers are smart enough to understand the difference between our news and opinions. The only truly dangerous opinions are those that are left unsaid and unchallenged.