Column: Patriots have no fear of opposing views

A letter writer earlier this month took my editors to task for having the temerity to publish opinions that weren't of the conservative variety ["Opinion Page Needs the Right Stuff," May 13].

"Most people I talk to in Kingman tend to be conservative," the writer wrote. "We vote conservative. Do you really think that they want to read those liberal opinions? I notice the paper seems to be turning in that direction ..."

A couple of points: The Kingman Daily Miner is not "turning liberal," as the writer fears. Indeed, most opinions and editorials of any successful newspaper reflect readers' values.

Clearly, the majority of our daily opinions represent conservative viewpoints, but not all of them, and that's a good thing. We'll get to that point in a minute.

Second: the writer seems to think conservatives only want to read conservative viewpoints. I assume he believes all liberals only want to read liberal viewpoints.

On this point he could be correct, and that should scare the heck out of anyone who truly puts the truth and good of the country ahead of their party.

It has become obvious that many Americans, liberals and conservatives alike, have decided the other side is beneath contempt. We wouldn't spit on them if they were on fire.

We used to be able to agree to disagree. Now, we just agree to hate each other. Loudly and with gusto, we belittle the other side.

We call each other names such as libtards and Rethuglicans. Everything is reduced down to a highly personal and offensive level.

Good manners and robust debate have been discarded on the cold ashes of what we once called civility.

Too many of us have taken politics and turned it into a slightly scary religious cult. Outside viewpoints shall not be tolerated and heretics will figuratively be burned at the stake.

Question: Why wouldn't you want to read a contrasting opinion once in a while? Isn't it still wise to keep your friends close and your enemies closer?

Running with the herd simply to have something to belong to is the ideology of a gang member. And herds, once they get running, often plunge en masse right off a cliff.

I value differing opinions. I value someone who can articulate an opposing viewpoint with reason and a conspicuous lack of emotion.

That's why I read them all. I read those I respect and I read those I despise. I only stop reading if they've been caught in a lie, which is often, or - snob alert - their writing is so poorly crafted I can't be bothered.

At the risk of sounding all hoity toity, a newspaper's opinion page is home to the marketplace of ideas. This concept, that there is a marketplace for ideas, holds to the principle that everyone should be given the right and the means to be heard.

It is in this way that better ideas overtake mediocre ideas and it is in this way that the truth sees the light of day.

The letter writer touched a nerve with me, obviously, because I don't think it's wise to ignore what people are saying, no matter who they are or what they have to say.

Unfortunately, it seems we've crossed a line we may never step back from again. The country, that is to say, all of us, will be the worse for it.

The great irony here is that while both conservatives and liberals claim to distrust the federal government, members of the Millionaire's Club in D.C. laugh out loud as we fight amongst ourselves while they get enriched and entrenched.