Letter: Policy is censorship
I respect the American Society of News Editors acknowledging PI Editor Randy Essex’s editorials from a human interest standpoint, but I’m disturbed their award also legitimizes censorship Essex imposed when he banned the term “illegal immigrant” in letters to the editor.
These are legal terms used for decades in decisions, as when Justice Brennan wrote in Plyler v. Doe: “Illegal alien is not an opprobrious epithet: it describes one present in a country in violation of the immigration laws” (hence “illegal”).
Freedom of speech is our most precious constitutional right, defended by newspaper editors more than anyone. Why would the ASNE award an editor for censoring free speech of his readership and fellow citizens?
Letters to editors are traditional forms of participation within democracies for citizens. When editors ignore or censor them, those that are printed fill an agenda and become “Letters from the editor.”
Mr. Essex moved here in 2014. We welcome and salute you getting to know all who you serve here. Most of us are friends with and understand the challenges of individual immigrants, but we also have growing concerns over the huge, unsustainable toll of massive unauthorized immigration on our job and housing markets, schools and environment.
There are many struggling locals whose families have been American for generations, whose livelihoods have been greatly challenged over the past decade of unenforced immigration policy. Their voices deserve to be heard.
Many who talk of “sustainability” who defend the environment (like me) also think it’s OK to let everyone into this country. These are not simultaneously defensible positions. Unchecked immigration is an environmental disaster locally and nationally, with overpopulation straining water resources, creating more traffic and pollution — and contributing to the local housing crisis.
Congratulations, Mr. Essex, on your writing. Many who’ve been here a long time are watching our mountain way of life disappear. You owe it to us all to allow intelligent, uncensored debate over our future.
David E. Johnson
Editor’s note: As noted on our opinion page each day, we reserve the right to edit letters for language usage, among other matters. The editorial in question said, “the Post Independent in letters to the editor, guest opinions or columns will no longer publish the terms ‘anchor babies’ or ‘illegal’ as labels for human beings. It is one thing to say a person is here illegally, a factual statement, but another to call a person an illegal. ‘Illegal’ and ‘anchor baby’ as labels are pejoratives … We have confidence that our letter writers can express themselves without this language.” We believe, for example, that Mr. Johnson accomplished this very thing.