OPINION: Should A Judge Judge Newspapering?

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There I was, looking nice, minding my own business, the Whittle Way, when I was asked by a newspaper reader to expound about lawful "legal" notices in the Murfreesboro Post.

I've mostly kept my dog at home regarding this monumentally important Constitutional question about the newspaper and whether mosques can exist in my community.

I've not centered my news media career on Constitutional law questions. But I have gleaned some common sense experience in American journalistic circles over the past 45 years.

But, as the old TV humorist show once declared: "Here Comes the Judge!" and what constitutes a newspaper of "legal" circulation?

I have an opinion.

While recently enjoying fellowship and food at Joe's Place and Demos' Steak restaurants, in Woodbury and Murfreesboro respectively, as part of the mosque debate, I've been repeatedly asked about the mosque and whether The Murfreesboro Post is a newspaper, the key word being a "news" carrier throughout our great compassionate communities.

As part of that biggo Constitutional equation, I've come to wonder where the judge had his head when he questioned whether a newspaper I contract with as an independent columnist "is" or "is not" a paper with circulation that permeates and covers a community's heart and pulse.

Let me answer succinctly about my Murfreesboro Post columns: When I make an error in my columns, my butt is "kicked" throughout the community.

As a simple country boy writer, lets cipher it down to where a highly educated judge may grasp while seated in the rarified air of his high bench: At newspapers where I've been blessed to write for during the past 45-plus years, any time I've made a "mistake" in print, folks from throughout respective communities have always let me know.

That includes poor folks, rich folks, politicians of all persuasions, and even preachers from various creeds and colors that I've bent out of shape.

I've worked for metropolitan papers and small country newspapers.

It's no different in The Murfreesboro Post.

Let me make a mistake, and/or write a column that touches the community's main stream of sentiment, I "HEAR ABOUT IT!" from throughout the community.

So, having been blessed to be a journalist based in a nation of freedoms "guaranteed" by the Constitution, including freedoms of the press, religion and speech, I may know about whether a newspaper is being read throughout a community.

Just one Dan's opinion, none of the above would be in question, if not launched during a mean-spirited political election year.

As a free American, do I oppose a mosque?

No. As a Baptist, I've been fascinated that no one has opposed our new church building currently under construction in Smyrna.

"But Baptists ain't terrorists," you might be voicing.

There was a time when Southern Baptists were. Check out slavery and other issues that Southern Baptist founding doctrine was based on in the 1800s.

As recent as the 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan raised its ugly head in Murfreesboro, and opposed construction of the city's first Catholic church.

Does history repeat itself?

Someone asked if I've ever lived near a mosque. I do presently, and within a few blocks. Have for several years. They've been perfectly good neighbors in the true sense of good Godly Old South neighborliness.

For those who oppose the mosque on religious grounds, why is the mosque not acceptable while no one opposes my new Baptist church building?

Last, but not least, how about this explosion of "media bashing" that's blistered America's political scene starting about 30 years ago.

It's fascinating to me that political proponents, who have never worked in media, seem to howl the loudest in "media bashing."

We media-types are not perfect, that I confirm.

But in 45-years of radio, TV and newspaper journalism, not one time have I been "ordered" to "slant" a story based on religious or political grounds by media management.

Not one time!!  

But I stand by any Americans' Constitutional right to "bash on."

But, respectfully, don't tread on others' freedom rights of religion, speech and don't judge a free press too harshly that helps preserve those rights.

Amen, and thank you for reading.
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