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Opinions are always right

Stop. Before you read another word, look at the top of the page. There, in big, bold, blue letters you will see the word opinion.

In case there was any doubt, the words you read on this page are someone’s opinion. They may belong to me or the author of any other column that appears here. They may or may not be shared by the paper’s staff or owners. But they are valid opinions.

Would you believe that someone called me recently and said I wasn’t allowed to express my opinion? He said I haven’t been here long enough.

The length of time I have served as editor of the paper is immaterial to my ability to present my thoughts on an issue.

Having an opinion — and the right to express it — is such an important issue that our Founding Fathers included it in the nation’s Constitution. It’s called the First Amendment and ensures freedom of speech.

That same amendment also provides for freedom of the press.

We are, however, by no means the only ones entitled to express our opinions — even on the pages of this newspaper.

Readers are encouraged to share their opinions through guest columns or letters to the editor. We welcome both and, with the exception of minor changes to correct grammar and misspellings and conform to our style, they are printed as submitted. Opinions are sacrosanct. However, if we spot an error, we will contact the author to prevent it from appearing in print.

All people have opinions, even if they aren’t printed anywhere. Opinions are the basis for our system of beliefs as well as a dividing factor in politics. Whether Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or Independent, party lines are based on groups of people’s opinions on how they think the government should operate. Voters then express their opinions by casting votes for the candidate they think best espouses their beliefs.

If you have any doubts about how dividing beliefs and opinions can be, all you have to do is look back to Tuesday’s State of the Union address by President Barack Obama. And the rebuttal by Sen. Joni Ernst that followed.

Opinions are neither true nor false. Although they can be based on fact, they are not indisputable facts. They are just what someone thinks at the moment.

From the moment they are born, we teach our children to express themselves. By doing this, we teach them that their opinions matter. But, we also instill in them the importance of letting people express their opinions.

Not letting someone express their opinion is wrong and unfair. It denies that person of a fundamental right.

The problems that most often arise with expressing one’s opinion comes in with the very nature of what an opinion is. More often than not opinions are about an issue that someone is passionate about. With all that feeling comes other emotions: anger, indignation and frustration among them.

As with any opinion, it is your right to agree or disagree with it. That, too, is a privilege guaranteed by our nation’s Bill of Rights.

Or, as the great philosopher and historian Voltaire is said to have said, “I disapprove of what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

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