Archive » December 24, 2008
By India Allen, Executive Editor
Stealing newsstands is no way to express opinions
One of the greatest things about this country is our right to free speech. It is hailed all across this nation and across the world. Our forefathers got it right when they wrote free speech into the Constitution.
In addition, freedom of the press is essential to the idea of American life. It informs. It educates. It is the only watchdog of government.
Yes, sometimes it can be a thorn in my side to have to listen to people I disagree with ó to tolerate for example, a skin-head procession through the streets ó to have sensationalized Proposition 8 commercials, pro or anti, aired on TV or to have to listen to what I consider extreme religious rants.
But like it or not, the plain and simple fact is that the people I disagree with share the same rights to free speech as I do.
Despite the attention the topic gets from the media and protests such as the Mario Savio Free Speech Movement at the University of California, Berkley, in the í60s, some people still seem to be confused about where their rights begin and end, or what constitutes free speech.
Vandalism is not free speech.†
The person or people who stole three of the Valley Journalís newsstands from Los Olivosí ďRĒ Country Store, the Buellton Post Office and Tomís Gas Station in Buellton probably felt their actions were justified by their opinions about the Journal or their desire to cause a little mischief.
Surely the perpetrator(s) could have chosen a more effective way to express their opinions.
The Journal is a community newspaper, an open forum. And while some readers may not agree with some of the opinion content, a team of reporters work tirelessly to provide the public with vital unbiased information about their community.
By stealing the newsstands, the thieves not only blocked the publicís right to have access to free information, but denied the Journal its right to freedom of expression.†
Aside from the fact that in 2006 Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 2612 into law, which made it illegal for an individual to take more than 25 copies of a free newspaper to sell, recycle for cash or to prevent others from reading it ó acts that can cost hundreds of dollars in fines and even some jail time ó itís simply selfish and unnecessary. Weíd like to think the Journal is a place members of the public can air their grievances, express differing opinions and look to as their source of news in the Santa Ynez Valley.
The truth is that your opinions, as differential as they might be, are what create an open dialogue with the community. Itís what keeps this newspaper honest.
Itís our lifeline to the community, and for this reason, we welcome your opinions in our letters section or our online responses.
But vandalism and theft will not get you far.
After itís all said and done, the only thing to show for such an act are stolen stands and repressed emotions.