Editorial: Kirkup’s Truncheon

Rossland Telegraph
By Rossland Telegraph
October 9th, 2008

In the world of the sound byte, we may be in danger of losing the meaning of the words ‘argument’ and ‘debate’. The fashion nowadays is for either side in a dispute to stand alone on a (Red) mountain top and loudly declaim the virtues of their own perspective while simultaneously damning their opponents as pathetic, benighted fools.

In actuality, the word ‘argument’ should refer to two parties’ attempts to respectfully engage one another on a legitimately disputed topic. Rarely, if ever, is one side on an issue completely right and the other completely wrong.

Indeed, if such a situation ever does arise, there’s no need for argument or debate: everyone just agrees. Should the city raise taxes to fund a banana plantation at the old Emcon site? Nope. Unfortunately, most issues are grey in some ways, and in order to function as a community, we need to be able to engage one another constructively. Easier said than done, of course. Just try to get a fervent environmentalist to sit down and talk with an SUV-driving golfer and see how far you get. If all we have is a community of people, each espousing their own ideology (green, consumerist, whatever), it’s not much of a community.

And that’s where we like to think we come in.

A newspaper’s primary function is to oil the gears of democracy. A small town newspaper, especially, needs to facilitate intelligent, respectful discourse and offer a forum for all non-hate-based views. It offers a place for disputing parties to engage one another and hopefully come to some sort of, if not agreement, then at least accommodation.

The historical example of John Kirkup comes to mind. Rossland’s first Chief Constable (the man upon whom John Wayne is said to have based his cinematic persona) is famous for various aspects of his rather unique approach to law enforcement. In particular, it’s said that the 6 foot 3, 300 pound Kirkup would sometimes take Saturday night brawlers up into the woods above town and tie them, facing one another, to adjacent trees. Then he’d leave them overnight in order to give them time to work out their difficulties. The next morning, he’d return and ask them if they were prepared to behave civilly. If they replied ‘yes’, he’d release them. We want to do something of that nature for Rossland. We don’t have a lead-weighted cane like Kirkup carried, but we do have this little soapbox, and we hope to put it to good use.

Sometimes we’ll take sides on an issue, but we’ll always try to be fair and we’ll always allow the other side equal space, should they choose to reply. That’s policy and you’re welcome to hold us to it. Now bring on the pro-banana plantation comments!

Categories: Op/Ed

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