Editor’s note: The op-ed page in any newspaper is a great place to start important conversations. Readers are free to express ideas, and others are free to disagree with those ideas without attacking anyone personally.
By publishing a letter, the newspaper does not agree or disagree with the writer, but is providing an opportunity for discussion. The editor reserves the right to not print something for a variety of reasons, including defamation, blatantly incorrect statements, or covering ground that has already been written, but people are generally free to express their own opinion, and we hope that sharing those opinions generates meaningful discussions around many coffee tables.
Here, Michael Smith responds to letters reacting to a letter he wrote, which appeared in the June 10 Chronicle. In their reactions to Smith’s original letter, both Laurie Harding and Brian Thom drew a parallel with Don Olsen’s infamous letter to the Nanaimo Daily News, but in his letter, Olsen claimed the history of First Nations people is “notable only for underachievement” and made remarks that directly criticized aboriginal people, which Smith did not do.
I am shocked and alarmed that Laurie Harding found my letter shocking, alarming, and misinformed.
Why is it that these people, when faced with an opinion they don’t share, question a newspaper’s decision to print it. Didn’t we fight a great war to defend freedom of speech?
Similarly, Brian Thom chooses to dismiss an opinion he does not share as the “ voice of a troll living under a bridge.”
The fact that many people disagree with some of the “ongoing legacies of our colonial history” does not mean we are ignorant, and certainly does not mean we are racist.
I submit that there may be more “trolls” under the bridge than above it, and it may come as a surprise that many of us are well educated and well informed, even though we disagree with Harding and Thom.
Let us have this debate without censorship, as that is the last resort of those who are afraid their views may not be defensible.