“I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and incur my own abhorrence.” -- Frederick Douglass, “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, American Slave,” 1845
BY BRADLEY HARRINGTON
So, for those few of you Dear Readers out there who may have noticed my absence from the editorial pages of the Wyoming Tribune Eagle since last September, the explanation is quite simple: I got fired.
Well, “fired” might not be the best word to use, as I was never an actual paid employee -- simply a freelance commentator. But I was certainly told
by Managing Editor Brian Martin, in a phone call a couple of days after my last WTE rant ran back on Sept. 2, that my words were no longer desired for WTE publication.
When I asked Martin about the reason for the termination, all he would tell me was that he had received a “large” number of complaints about my most recently published columns. As a consequence, the item came up to a vote by the WTE’s Editorial Board. A vote which I lost.
“Did I misquote somebody or get my facts wrong?” I asked Martin after he conveyed that information.
“No, nothing like that,” he said. “No one challenged your facts. They just basically expressed that they were tired of what you have to say.”
“No problem, Brian,” I told him. “If the WTE is not interested in my columns any longer, then that’s your right, as a private company, to make that choice.”
More than one person suggested to me, in the weeks following the WTE’s decision, that by refusing to run my column any longer, the WTE was interfering with my First Amendment rights.
Sorry, but while I appreciate the sentiments, I’d respectfully disagree.
The First Amendment guarantees that we cannot be persecuted by government for our statements or beliefs. It does not mean that we have to be provided with newspaper commentary space, bullhorns or university lecterns by those who disagree with our views. Nor does it mean we’re above being challenged on our statements.
It means: Freedom from government persecution. PERIOD! As a privately owned company, the WTE can run anyone’s opinions as it sees fit. Or not. Finis. End of story. The “Big 30.”
But just because I would never legally challenge the WTE’s right to run whatever commentary swill they find palatable does not mean I don’t have thoughts about how those selections are made. Nor does it take much imagination to figure out what actually happened behind the scenes regarding my weekly rants.
Consider, to begin with, as anyone who has ever read me regularly can attest to, that the fundamental thrust of all my columns has always been to combat government overreach, waste and ineptitude wherever it might be found. I also am ready to challenge government’s unconstitutional involvement in the myriad sectors of our society and economy best left, in both reason and morality, to the workings of the free market.
Then let’s add to the mix the fact that the most oft-frequented target for my exposés was: the “economic development” schemes always being hatched, presented and engineered by local “leaders,” whether they be attempts to force county taxpayers to fund children’s museums (shot down in 2016) or the corporate welfare handouts distributed by the Wyoming Business Council.
Such adventures are always cast in the light of “development” for our economy (“We created 13 jobs with this subsidy!”) But none of the proponents of such schemes ever tell us how they intend on producing wealth by stealing it first. Nor do they ever bother to explain the role in actual wealth-creation those forcibly extracted tax dollars would have played had they been left alone to do their work in the private sector instead.
Then, let’s also point out that I spent most of the summer of 2018 beating up on all the political hacks running for the Wyoming governorship on the Republican ticket. Most of them claimed to be “free-market conservatives,” but they were getting taxpayer-funded handouts of one kind or another instead (such as now-Gov. Mark Gordon’s USDA farm subsidies for his Merlin Ranch).
So roll it all together and what do you get? A lot of people, with both political and economic interests in maintaining and expanding government control over such “economic development” boondoggles, who wanted me to SHUT UP.
Yep, I’m quite sure that the local “Good ‘Ole Boy Network” was “tired of what I had to say” all right!
So, do I have to be a fly on the wall to figure it out? No, at least a few of the good ole boys got together, obviously, and decided to launch a complaint campaign against me. And, given the WTE’s spine status as that of a wet noodle, once such a “large” number of complaints were received, the WTE acted to excise my opinions from their pages.
Notice that no one bothered to actually pen a commentary themselves and refute, publicly, the facts I’ve always pointed out about such fascistic “economic development” schemes (schemes the WTE generally supports editorially, by the way). No, that would require work, consistency and integrity, and the fascists would much rather simply shut me down instead.
(Sidebar: Remember, Dear Readers, that “fascism” is actually a precisely defined word, not just a generalized name to call someone and hurl about. What it actually means is: “a governmental system with strong centralized power, permitting no opposition or criticism, controlling all affairs of the nation (industrial, commercial, etc.) ..."
Observe that Mussolini and the rest of his Italian fascists did NOT nationalize factories or advocate the abolition of private property, They merely controlled such property instead, manipulating the marketplace for their own ends with handouts to their boot-licking cronies and further controls on their enemies. And all of it was paid for by prior plunderings of the productive members of the population they ruled.
So to the extent to which our local “leaders” advocate the same type of “economic development” schemes for the same reasons, and act to fund them in exactly the same manner -- well, then, they qualify as “fascists” as well.)
Well, to Martin and the rest of the WTE’s Editorial Board, as well as the “economic development” fascists who decided they couldn’t tolerate my opinions any longer: Yes, you can silence my voice in the WTE, but that doesn’t alter the facts of reality by one atom or erg of energy.
Your schemes still conflict with what’s real. You can’t take money you haven’t got from people at the point of a gun then hand it out to your cronies, and then call that “economic growth.”
Even more telling, however, is the fact that instead of rebutting the charges I’ve made repeatedly over the years -- which you are all apparently unable to do -- you sought to gag me instead.
You people seem to think that muzzling my public voice means muzzling the facts of reality as well. Sorry, but that’s not the way the world operates; blank-outs never work.
Nor, speaking strictly now to the Editorial Board of the WTE, does your cave-to-so-called-public-opinion approach speak well for your journalistic integrity. Whatever happened to objectively analyzing the facts? Or to acting out on the media’s role as a watchdog over out-of-control government’s constant meddling in our lives? Rather than challenging such practices, you advocate and encourage them instead.
No, instead of courageously acting on such principles, you WTE folks prefer to declare that they don’t exist, or are irrelevant in our lives. When you could have stepped up to the plate and actually done your job, you chose to allow public opinion polls to become the barometer of your soul -- a soul which now, in the words of Ayn Rand, is little more than a “shapeless piece of clay stamped by footprints going in all directions” (“Philosophy and Sense of Life,” 1966).
The WTE constantly claims that it supports a “diversity of viewpoints.” But firing me makes the reality clear: That “diversity” only occurs within the framework of the mixed-economy systems so prevalent in the United States today. Challenge that model, Dear Readers, and you’re in big trouble down at the WTE.
The surprise, quite frankly, is that I was allowed to rant in the WTE as long as I did. I have always known my approach to socio-politico-economic issues has flown in the face of both conventional “wisdom” and WTE editorial philosophy. So whatever run I was ever able to get away with was “good to go” with me. And I’ve always known that that ride would be cut off eventually.
Neither the Editorial Board of the WTE nor the local “economic development” fascists control this blog, however. So, Dear Readers, be on notice that -- after a much-needed break -- we’re about to resume our exposés on government graft, manipulation and corruption.
And you can just call that “doing the job the local news media refuses to do." Are you people ready for another ride?
Bradley Harrington is a computer technician and a writer who lives in Cheyenne. He blogs at Reigniting Liberty’s Torch, Reigniting Liberty's Torch Email: email@example.com. He also is the co-founder of this blog, Truth to Power.