Why we publish all signed letters to the editor

The answer to why we print all signed letters to the editor is simple: We are staunch believers in the freedom of speech and a free press.
I believe we have a duty to give every citizen a voice. I do act as the gatekeeper of what information is brought to citizens on the news pages but the editorial page is different and should be.
Page 4 belongs to the citizen who wishes to voice an opinion. It does not have to be a popular opinion, an opinion addressing a present issue, or even a sane opinion. It merely has to be the words of a resident who signed the letter and provides us a way to verify the signing and person is real.
I will remind our readers that our republic was built on unpopular and at times insane ideas and that the best ideas can come out of a melee of all ideas from everyone.
I do not believe the readers want me, Joseph McCain, as publisher and editor only printing the things I agree with or the things I think are sane. There are many letters that I do not agree and do not get a “kick out” of them yet I have published them simply because it gives a fellow citizen a voice.
I have published letters of importance about elections, about street repairs yet we have also published letters on what some would consider “not sane” such as bigfoot, how recording of the centuries is incorrect, and many more.
All these letters do have important factors about them.
First, someone is using his/her right to free speech—if you do not use it you can lose it. The letter writer using the right of free speech helps maintain that right for everyone. Printing these letters is our newspaper’s way of helping to protect the central concept of America— the First Amendment’s protection of speech. Freedom of speech is not a flame for a few to hold. It is the torch for the many to help keep all enlightened and none of us in the dark.
Secondly, if the letter seems a bit odd then the name of the letter writer is at the end and you as a fellow resident know who to avoid or which subjects to avoid with that person if you run into them.
We require all letters for publication be signed so that we can verify the letter writer. We do this because all of our reporters and myself have our names on the articles we write and a letter writer, if they truly believe what they are saying, will have the “guts” to put their name to it.
If you have something to say and truly believe it, you should always be willing to put your name to it.
I do.
Joseph C. McCain
Editor’s note: Joseph McCain is the publisher and editor of the Winston County Journal, Choctaw Plaindealer and Webster Progress Times. He may be reached at newsroom@winstoncountyjournal.com, 662-773-6241 or 662-803-5236.