A worthy goal, I say

Fiction 59 deadline:
If you’re a short-story writer who wants to submit pieces for out annual contest, you need to do so by Feb. 23.

After last week’s column on 9/11, I got some interesting responses. All came to the office in written form—no threatening voicemails or surprise visits. (Still, please let me know if you see a dark van camped downtown …)

A couple readers rejected conspiracy talk outright. Others felt my column was too tame. More recommended additional material, printed and online.

From various spots on the belief spectrum, people thanked me for raising the discussion … and expressed concern for my well-being.

“Be careful,” one letter-writer said, “you could be getting phone calls in the middle of the night by people that will suggest that you don’t go any further on this subject, [that] instead a ‘hit piece’ must be printed in the CN&R or your advertising will disappear. I guess you didn’t realize what a can of worms this is, and how sinister are the elements in control of American media/business/politics.”

I thought a lot about ramifications. I thought a lot about everything involved with the column. I talked it over with people I respect. I examined every word, and asked my editors to do the same. Even the headline—“The truth is out there”—got careful consideration.

One reader-writer asked: “Where is there an open forum for such discussion?” I see this space as that sort of place, for any matter of significance.

It comes down to doing what you say you’ll do. Some people call it fulfilling a mission; others call it achieving a goal. Pick a buzzword, any buzzword—they all boil down to the same thing.

The News & Review’s mission is to make a positive impact on the community. Within that, I have a personal goal of helping end petty partisanship. Exploring an issue with a critical eye makes a positive impact. Marginalizing, dismissing or lampooning a dissenting view does just the opposite. It polarizes. It leaves people angry, disenfranchised, oblivious.

Maybe I’m oblivious; maybe I’m courting disaster by giving a forum to “dangerous” ideas. But that’s what the CN&R has been doing for 30 years, and the paper is still here. For as long as I’m here, I’ll keep my eyes—and dialog—open.

If you’re curious … : The Chico 9/11 Truth group will screen the documentary 9/11 Mysteries at 2 p.m. Saturday (Feb. 17) at the Pageant Theater. Check www.chico911truth.org for more information.

Noncontroversial stuff: In the better-late-than-never category, the CN&R has gotten a fifth intern for the spring semester. She’s Laura Hauser, a journalism student at Chico State, and her first byline appears in the Newslines section this week.

Meanwhile, congratulations to Mollie Russell on her Employee of the Month recognition—and thanks to Peet’s for listening to me. I don’t want to push my luck, but I did nominate Aubrey Debauchery for March …