Tuesday, May 22, 2007

on passing by- again

So, what to write about this month. I suppose after my slap on the wrist in last months edition it might be a sensible idea to steer well clear of anything of a political nature, or at least anything of a political nature to do with either of the present government parties. But then again I think a reply is in order.
As Tim pointed out the Bugle is a community magazine. Even a short perusal every month will show that we are blessed with a large number of excellent contributors who deal extensively and sensitively with local and community issues. In light of this I felt that I should write about issues on the wider scale, to perhaps inform local opinion. Does our complainant expect the Bugle to be a totally insular publication dealing only with local issues? I hope not. This would be akin to asking newspapers with “Irish” in their title to report only on Irish issues.
Last months unnamed government supporting complainant raised a number of points in their letter and if I may I will address them in the order they were presented.

Myself and Dick consistently slate the government.
I can’t answer for Dick but for my own part I don’t regard any of my comments as “slating” the government. I have consistently highlighted areas of government where I think parties or persons have not been true to their position or to the people. I have very rarely, if at all, mentioned the parties by name for “slating” and would be as annoyed at these antics regardless of which parties were in power. From the tone of the letter I would take it that the unnamed complainant is a supporter of either Fianna Fail or the Progressive Democrats, as I am myself. However, this support should never be allowed to act as a blindfold to legitimate criticism.

This slating has been the main source, indeed the only source of my material over the past year.
This one is a little bit easier to rebut, and suggests the unnamed complainant has been reading only the pieces of the columns which suit their purposes. Yes, over the last year I have consistently commented on the government but a quick look at back issues will show that I have also commented on a host of other subjects. Has our complainant forgotten about my references to the KTK levy or my recent comments on Ian Paisley? Perhaps my questions concerning the state of the R411 slipped past, along with items on road safety, or the Aer Lingus flotation debacle, or even a full half page on our relationship with the Muslim community in Ireland. What about the references to death threats to the Pope? Surely they couldn’t have missed the bits about the Freedom of Information Act, or whales, or the National Wage Agreements, or Garda brutality, or taxi drivers strikes, or the new breath testing legislation, or Saddam Hussein, or Halloween fireworks, or the Kildare draft development plan, or animal rights legislation, or dog wardens. Was it really that easy to skip the bits on the circus that is our local roadwork’s, or Fine Gaels election promises, or the

cost of all the tribunals?. Perhaps it’s a case of the old adage, there are none so blind as those who will not see.

The Bugle is a family read paper and not politically linked to any party.
I am unaware that anything I have ever written in the Bugle could be construed as anti family or that could not be read by any member of a family so this comment is slightly perplexing. As I have already said I comment on the government of the day regardless of party.

Contributions are totally one sided and prejudiced.
As we are in possession of only one government then obviously any comments on their performance or antics are going to be one sided. I understand prejudice as an opinion or dislike which is unreasoning. I do not personally dislike the government. My opinions, however, are obviously going to be influenced by the governments conduct but I am unaware of any which are unreasoning.

One of the basic requirements of a true democracy is a free press and the inalienable right to ones opinion, except in circumstances where this goes against the common good. Am I to take it that as a government supporter our complainant has never passed comment on the opposition parties in the Dail? I doubt it.
As the make up of any proper parliament will show, there are sound reasons for opposition to the government of the day. These reasons extend to the general populace as a right. So important are these rights that they are enshrined in the constitution, which guarantees that citizens can express freely their convictions and opinions, even against the government of the day. Voltaire is attributed as having remarked that he may disagree with someone’s views but he would defend to the death their right to voice them. I expect the same rights, whether in the Bugle or anywhere else.
I will continue to comment on government where I feel it necessary, regardless of party. If I hear a minister spend twenty minutes of an interview refusing to answer a straight question I will comment on it. If I hear a minister attempt to garner plaudits for something a previous minister put in train, or otherwise demean their office, I will comment on it. If I hear a minister belittle an opposition member to deflect legitimate criticism I will comment on it. If I hear a minister attempt to defend something which is obviously indefensible then I will comment on it. If I feel a government politician is attempting to self aggrandise, is blustering or bluffing, or is being economical with the truth then obviously I will comment on it. This will apply regardless of party or affiliation. If our unnamed complainant can refer to any items I have written which were erroneous or untrue I am more than willing to correct the view and apologise.
If , on the other hand the Bugle is not comfortable with this type of comment, it might be time to move on. A monthly page on community orientated and family friendly local flora and fauna just doesn’t do it for me.

All for now. Mike Edmonds.

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