Letter: Don’t limit freethinking

Dear Editor:

I would like to speak to a recent letter to The Paper, in which a local business owner stated that she would no longer be carrying the Putnam County News and Recorder. Go-Go Pops’ owner Lynn Miller claimed that she considers the paper “poisonous to her customers” and that she makes an effort to carry only “wholesome and sustainable products” in her store.

The delicious products found at Go-Go Pops, which I will happily continue to enjoy, could, in fact, be considered harmful to some people. It probably would not be wise for those on sugar-, fat- or caffeine-limited diets to consume large quantities of the delectable treats found in this shop.  Admittedly, this analogy is a little ridiculous, because, for the most part, it pertains to people with medical restrictions.

But do our minds have restrictions? Aren’t we limiting freethinking by refusing to read or listen to others, even if we don’t agree with their points of view or if they sometimes make mistakes? Are our egos so large that we must refrain from media that do not conform to our own ideologies?

More importantly, couldn’t we, as a society, actually benefit from listening to the opinions and perceptions of others, even if they don’t necessarily reflect our own? Couldn’t we gain valuable insight and perspective from this practice?

On the other side of the equation, I would think it best for the respective publishers of these papers, and all publishers and influential media figures for that matter, to make good judgment, fair and honest reporting, and unbiased information of the public their primary purposes.

Even more perplexing to me was the subsequent movement by a group of local residents to gather for a toast at Go-Go Pops, in praise of their decision not to carry the PCNR. In a time when it is more important than ever to teach, preach and live diversity and tolerance, this gesture is, in my opinion, rather ironic and hypocritical.

Here’s an idea. Read both papers. Inform yourself as to what motivates and drives a variety of your neighbors, not just the ones with whom you agree or align yourself. Perhaps our collective consciousness and understanding can move beyond the boundaries of our geographically small community. Free your minds, Philipstown.

Lori Moss
Cold Spring

2 thoughts on “Letter: Don’t limit freethinking

  1. I concur with Lori’s sentiments regarding the desirability of freethinking, which is defined as forming opinions on the basis of logic, reason, and empiricism, rather than on authority, tradition, religious or other dogmas.

    However it appears to me that the PCNR is the antithesis of freethinking, with predictably ideological and rigid opinions appearing regularly on its pages. The freethinkers that have rejected the PCNR have done so after reading both papers for some time, and have come to the conclusion that the newspaper does not advance an honest conversation nor offer valuable insights. Rather, it seems more intent on following some sort of agenda, perhaps as a result of the Fox News pedigree of its owners.

    So it seems the folks that have rejected the PCNR have indeed “freed their minds”.

  2. Lori, I appreciate your point and your earnest desire to see diversity and tolerance rule. I really think most of the people who have commented on this situation on both sides of the aisle have the same desire.

    The problem is, for me at least, I didn’t cancel my subscription to the PCNR because I disagreed with the political views of its owners and editors, despite the fact that many of their backers keep insisting that must be the reason. I’ve even been called a hypocrite here for my position, although the accuser clearly didn’t understand the meaning of that word. While I do consider myself politically very liberal and do indeed disagree with their political views, it’s the disrespectful attitude toward their subscribers and their employment of rabble-rousing yellow journalism techniques that have turned me against that paper, which I was a proud subscriber of for many years.

    I was willing to give the new publishers of the PCNR a fair chance to prove themselves. I didn’t cancel my subscription until last year. But, when I began (almost immediately) reading insulting and bullying editorial responses to benign letters to the editor, and saw roadblocks erected to suppress criticism, I began having doubts about where the paper was headed. And over the past few years, this disrespectful tone and unprofessional tactics have continued, to the point where I no longer wanted to pay for a subscription, despite the fact that I miss many aspects of the paper. This is no different than when I reluctantly discontinued my subscription to Gourmet Magazine a few years ago, after editor Ruth Reichle transformed it from a cooking magazine into a lifestyle magazine focusing on the rich and famous and celebrity chefs. That’s not what I had signed up for, so I canceled my subscription. And, by the way, that venerable magazine is no longer published. Guess I wasn’t alone in my opinion of the changes.

    I grew up in a very small town, both similar and different than Cold Spring, with a local weekly paper that was published from 1882 until 1987 (sadly, no longer.) I loved that paper just as I loved the PCNR. And probably because I grew up in a small town like Cold Spring and despite my liberal leanings, I actually agree with many of the stances that the PCNR has taken on village issues over the past couple of years. But regardless of how much I miss that paper and whether I agree or disagree with any of their viewpoints, I can’t imagine why anyone would pay money to subscribe to a publication that they find insulting to their intelligence. And if their editorial policies are not insulting enough for you, then the indefensible and shockingly childish and petty “mock interview” with Gordon Stewart certainly should have been the last straw for anyone with a conscience.

    It’s not about politics. It’s about quality, professionalism, and respect, in my opinion.