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Varying opinions vital to democracy

Periodically, I have to remind readers that the “articles” featured on this page are not news stories. They are opinion pieces.

That means they reflect the thoughts, ideals and feelings of their authors. While they are often based on facts or current events, they are not actual accounts of what happened. They are the authors’ interpretations of those facts and events.

By definition, an opinion is a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

Opinion pieces, especially those contributed by community members, are not held to the same standards as news articles written by trained journalists. That means they don’t have to be fair or impartial. Neither do opinion pieces written by trained journalists, for that matter, although those are generally grounded in facts and actual events.

The purpose of the opinion page, and the columns and commentaries featured on it, is to expose readers to different viewpoints. You don’t have to agree with them, or even like them. I don’t have to agree with them or even like them. But that doesn’t make them wrong, full of false information or permeated with “fake news” — a term that has been bandied about way too frequently in recent months. How can someone’s opinion be wrong or false? Quite simply, it can’t.

Most assuredly, the information they are basing their opinions on could be inaccurate. Yet that shouldn’t prevent people from forming or expressing their opinion.

The ability to express an opinion is so important that our Founding Fathers included it in the First Amendment to the nation’s Constitution. Our freedom of speech is guaranteed by this amendment. Varying opinions, and the opportunity to express them, are the foundation of our nation’s republic.

We here at the Boulder City Review welcome opinions. Learning — and sharing — others’ viewpoints is an integral part of what we do. And we appreciate these folks for taking time out of their busy schedules to share their thoughts, especially when they come from well-respected community members.

Perhaps city officials should take a lesson from our playbook and embrace the opportunity to learn what others in the community think and feel about what is happening in town. Certainly, that’s a much better way to handle an opposing viewpoint than condemning or denigrating it and trying to humiliate its author.

It’s challenging to respect those who cannot be open to others’ thoughts. It’s equally difficult for these types of people to become effective at what they do. They become stuck in a rut of their own making, unable or unwilling to see that another person’s perspective may offer a better solution to a problem or that a compromise may be necessary to move forward.

Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at hsaylor@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.

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