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Celebrating Our Freedoms

Published: November 9, 2017

We celebrate Veterans Day on November 11, a day that honors those who protect our freedoms; and indications that some freedoms are threatened are a grave concern.

Reported by The New York Times on October 23, the Environmental Protection Agency canceled speaking appearances by three EPA scientists, including the keynote speaker, at that Monday’s State of the Narragansett Bay and Watershed Program workshop in Providence, R.I. The scientists were to address climate change, part of a 500-page report.

Speakers are changed and drop out of conferences all the time; but the muffling of voices at the Rhode Island conference is ominous.

It is not the only example at the national level of a desire to quiet the voice of the people — that is, impinge on the First Amendment that ensures a free press. While not a feasible threat, the president on October 11 alluded to revoking licensing of NBC — the news station that initially reported on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s uncomplimentary adjective for the president.

That a president of the United States would suggest stuffing a rag into the mouth of the press is reprehensible. That is an opinion shared by Connecticut US Senator Richard Blumenthal, who released a statement October 16 noting he had “sent letters to Federal Communications Commission officials urging them to reject a call from President Trump to challenge the licenses of news outlets based on content, and to reaffirm their commitment to uphold the First Amendment.”

Responding to the President’s tweet condemning news he deems “fake,” Mr Blumenthal added, “This is an affront to the First Amendment, freedom of the press, and founding principles of the Communications Act. A robust, free press is the cornerstone of our democracy — ensuring public access to news without governmental meddling or censorship.”

We applaud the senator’s upholding of the freedom of the press. When the public loses confidence in mainstream news, egged on by those who squirm at any criticism by said press, it bodes a dark future of regulated news meted out by the government. When federal agencies begin to stifle news gathered and vetted by their own agencies, it furthers a cause of keeping the public ignorant.

The citizens of the United States expect a broad palette of news spread out before them, with confidence that they can discern fact from fiction, without government interference.

One agency squelching the news is disgusting. Allowing similar actions to spread is horrifying.

Let your Congressional representative know that freedom of the press, freedom of information must not be compromised. At The Newtown Bee we are committed to reporting accurately. Media outlets that have functioned for decades on the bedrock of truth in reporting must be trusted and supported as they report facts; “fake news” is not news that one or a few find offensive, but rather news that has no veracity. Viewers and readers will discern opinion from the news.

Speak up, speak now: make certain that is an option, now and in the future. Do not let our veterans’ centuries of defending the freedoms on which our country is built be for naught.

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