Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
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Alan Verson: Some only want to hear opinions that agree with theirs

To the editor:

Last week the Gazette printed a guest column supporting the George Zimmerman jury verdict. Although I did not agree with everything the writer said, it was thoughtful, seemed to be based on the evidence that was presented in the case and made points that were worth thinking about.

Friday the opinion page was filled with letters to the editor that not only disagreed with this article, but were outraged that the Gazette had even printed it. The letters said that the article was filled with biased nonsense, was racist and offensive and should not have been printed.

We have to remember that the jury, even though it was all white, listened for many weeks to all of the evidence in the case, then heard the judge’s instructions as to the applicable law and then deliberated for 16 hours before reaching a unanimous decision. Is it really so outrageous that a reasonable person could conclude that the jury verdict was correct?

How many of the letter writers were familiar with the evidence in the case? It seemed to me that the letters contained numerous misstatements or distortions of the evidence so as to support the writers’ preconceptions that Zimmerman must certainly have been guilty.

Whatever one thinks about the outcome of the case and the tragedy that occurred, shouldn’t liberal-minded people be able to read an opinion that disagrees with and challenges their strongly held opinion without attacking the motives of the proponent of that opinion and denying it the right to be published? That is called civil discourse and liberals are supposed to be supportive of it. Apparently there are many people who only want to hear opinions that agree with theirs.

Alan Verson

Northampton

Welcome to Noho.

It seemed to me that there were 2 kinds of negative response. Some of the comments pointed out real problems with arguments made by the guest column and the logic that those arguments embody. Personally, I agreed with those, and really hated the guest column. But a very different kind of response came from people who were indignant at the fact that the column "even saw print" or decided to berate the gazette for publishing it. That argument crosses a line that should make anyone uncomfortable. We should all be thick-skinned enough to be exposed to things that we find repulsive.

Right on, Alan Verson. I was thinking exactly the same thing.

Isn't the silence deafening!

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