2003-04-19 / Editorial/Opinion

Who Has A Right To Be Heard?

Who Has A Right To Be Heard?

Who Has A Right To Be Heard?

The Wave has been inundated with dozens of calls, e-mail and letters as well as more than a few office visits in relation to the letter to the editor from Stephen Wohl that was run in the April 5 issue of the newspaper. In his letter, Wohl called the American soldiers fighting in Iraq "cowards, bullies, mass murderers and thieves for Exxon." He ends by saying that they "should be tried as war criminals." We first have to say that we in no way agree with Wohl. We have been asked why, then, we ran his letter. In our minds, the answer is an easy one. Even people with unpopular opinions, those so far from the mainstream that they appear to many to be ludicrous, have a Constitutional right to be heard. Do we have a right to censor letters? Of course we do. The Wave has the absolute right to print what it deems appropriate. We print all letters with the exception of those that the law would deem libelous. We print letters that have unpopular viewpoints, such as Wohl’s letter. We print letters that excoriate this paper. We print many letters that we don’t agree with. To print those letters, we believe, is one of the prime responsibilities of a community newspaper: to give a voice to those who cannot be heard in any other way. The Wave provides that voice for Rockaway’s residents, and will continue to do so despite the anger of those who believe that we should somehow stifle the voices of those with whom we do not agree.

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