If there is one thing I really love about living in the good ol’ USA, it is the freedom of speech.
We have the freedom to say what we want, pretty much when we want, without having to risk prosecution (of course persecution is a whole other thing). I wouldn’t have the opportunity to write this column if it wasn’t for that particular inalienable right (and goodness knows, I love that particular one).
What better place to do this than the editorial section of your local paper. You can there voice off on almost anything that is on your mind. It is the place to go to read about what people in the community are thinking and feeling.
Wars are discussed, public issues chewed on, people express gratitude for a kindness offered, and opinions are mulled over as the reader shares their view on pretty much anything they want.
According to Mike Call, editor of the Tooele Transcript-Bulletin, the only guidelines related to a letter to the editor are: You must sign the letter; you must give your name and phone number; and you can’t libel a private individual or business. Also, if you get really wordy, there is the possibility your comments will be edited to shorten them down (which surprises me because some are reeeeeally long).
I would bet (if I were a betting person) the letters to the editor are some of the most regularly read sections of the paper. When someone is really torqued about an issue, we all get to read about it, laugh, cry or think to ourselves — hey I have an opinion on that too! Then we have the freedom allotted to citizens of this great country to write in and be heard.
Of course the big drawback of this freedom of speech is that when you do write in, you are exposing yourself to public scrutiny (and in some cases ridicule).
We have seen this exact situation unfold before our eyes as one member of the community has taken a public beating for expressing her opinion on the color of paint on the St. Barnabas Center in the Overlake Development at the north end of town.
Now before you start typing your letters to the editor saying Kari Scribner is a big fat jerk, let me just say I am not taking sides here. Despite the fact that many have responded by slamming the nice community I live in and the nice people who live here (hey – what is the deal, guilt by association?), I choose to not publicly state my opinion on the design, color or landscape of the St. Barnabas Center; not because I do or do not like it, but I have, as a citizen of the United States of American, the right to keep all of that to myself.
What I think the real issues here are that there is a feeling of contention about the old to the new — meaning the old time residents and the new residents, and second is the fact that this is a house of worship being criticized.
Now, about the first issue. I’m sure it is hard to see so much development happening in Tooele. I moved here from a small town of 7,000 residents, remembering the Tooele I knew (about 20,000 people ago). I was definitely surprised to see what it had become when we bought our house here two years ago.
It has to be hard to see a small town grow to such a degree that it is almost unrecognizable from what it once was. We were witnessing the same type of growth in the town we moved from and felt saddened to see such a change. It is sometimes difficult to live with growth — a once tight-knit community, suddenly becomes less so as its population increase.
However, I want to say in defense of those of us who live in the Overlake area — we are not the evil empire some seem to think we are. There are many who live here who are working to be a positive part of the Tooele community.
We have a member of the school board, doctors, lawyers, and business owners. You will find us as active members of the Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis and other organizations. We care about the Tooele community and all those who are a part of it.
Now as for dissing the color of a house of worship — I’m not sure I would have gone there myself. However, I don’t think everyone would have gotten so bent out of shape if someone wrote in and said they didn’t like the color some of the new businesses were painted, whether it was in the Overlake development or not.
I had the good fortune to write the original article when the St. Barnabas Center was under construction.
The people I interviewed from the two congregations were very pleasant and looked forward with excitement to move to their new Overlake location. I’m sure they have been greatly saddened by the controversy and anger that has been produced over their church. In a building where I assume they teach the basic Christian principles of goodness and peace, having their building cause such hateful and mean remarks (admit it, some of the remarks have been really unkind — from the beginning to Tuesday’s paper), must have caused some concern to those who call St. Barnabas Center their house of worship.
Although I attend “the other” church in the development (which also has taken a beating in other editorials), I have been happy about the new church that has become a part of our development and have felt nothing but welcome for the two other faiths who attend there. Diversity is good; it is what makes a community interesting and alive (and just so you know, I happen to know that, some of their congregation live in Overlake as well).
Expressing our opinions is an extremely important part of what makes us Americans — I‘m glad we all think differently about various issues. What an incredible right we have to be able to burst forth in verse with what we feel, when we feel it. But, just as Tom Hanks said to Meg Ryan in my favorite movie (You’ve Got Mail) when she spoke of her desire to be able to really say what was on her mind, the moment she wanted to say it instead of being tongue tied, “But then on the other hand, I must warn you, that when you finally have the pleasure of saying the thing you mean to say, the moment you mean to say it, remorse inevitably follows.”