Susan Duncan

Opinions. We’ve all got them, some more strongly held than others. Not everyone, though, takes the time to write down their thoughts and submit them to the News and Tribune as a letter or a guest column.

Those who do are among the brave in this era of vehement disdain for those with opposing viewpoints.

It’s a scary time when people make judgments about others based solely on a stated opinion on a given issue, or person.

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“Opinions cannot survive if one has no chance to fight for them.”

— Thomas Mann

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Welcome to the ring. I’ve done my share of sparring, as have other staff members, local columnists and letter writers, be they regular contributors or the occasional peddler of musings.

Sometimes, I’ll write a column or editorial just to get the ball of community dialogue rolling, hoping we can pick up stray threads of wisdom along the way.

After all, to allow for evolved viewpoints, we must continue learning, building on experience, and relying on others to help us understand.

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Don’t let your opinion sway your judgment.

— Samuel Goldwyn

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A recent Facebook message to the News and Tribune didn’t mince words:

“keep your liberal trash opinions to yourself”

Well, at least the post was sans profanity. What it did demonstrate, though, is misunderstanding of content found on the Opinions page (note the plural nature of the page flag).

By way of explanation:

· Letters are the opinions of the letter writers. The newspaper may — or may not — share those opinions. We don’t publish them based on whether or not we agree.

· Columns are the opinions of the columnists. Ditto the sentiment above. Our opinion matters not.

· Editorials do reflect the opinion of the newspaper’s Editorial Board. I’m part of that board, and write many of the editorials.

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“Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”

— Steve Jobs

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I also write columns, like this one. These are my words, my opinions. I share them for your consideration, but you can easily ignore them.

You also are welcome to take issue with my opinions or that of the newspaper by espousing your own views.

I’m OK with that. In fact, I encourage you to be an active reader and defend your right to disagree, or agree.

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“The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane.”

— Mark Twain

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If humorist Mark Twain only knew how prophetic were his words, ones he surely meant in jest.

Too many people today embrace the “you’re nuts” model of public discourse. It’s not just that they no longer listen, but also they feel compelled to shout down others when they dare to differ.

We have digressed to name-calling. The sender of a recent email took aim at a published political column, but misfired toward the writer, dubbing him “old” and an “idiot.”

Vigorous debate need not include vitriol. It only detracts from the message.

— Susan Duncan is editor of the News and Tribune. Reach her at susan.duncan@newsandtribune.com and 812-206-2130.