Pen, or keyboard, truly mightier than proverbial sword

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 18, 2005

Despite what some people believe, Dr. Jim Crawford is not crazy.

He is, however, quite fearless.

For those who don't know, Crawford is an administrator at Ohio University Southern who has been writing a weekly column for The Ironton Tribune. Crawford is brave enough to lay it out there and tell people what he thinks on economics, culture and, of course, politics.

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To say that Crawford leans to the left politically is like saying the Titanic sprang a leak.

Once a week, he lets thousands of readers in Lawrence County know exactly what he thinks - for better or worse.

"The community gets a great spread of conservative interpretations of politics but only gets a limited spread of liberal interpretations. I thought there was some need for balance," Crawford said. "For me, the newspaper is a vehicle that exists for all of us. Š It is not about being right, it is about creating dialogue."

Not everyone enjoys his perspective and a few people have been so mad you would think he wrote something about their mommas.

I have heard a few, "That guy is crazy," or "Why in the world do you let that nut write something in the paper?" comments.

As required for any columnist we publish, Crawford always includes contact information. Rest assured he has received some feedback, to which says he always responds.

"I have had a couple people tell me I am filled with hate and had a couple of people tell me I must not be religious," Crawford said. "On the other side, I have had several people give me positive comments. It really has been some kind of balance. I am impressed people read the columns and think about them, even if they disagree."

Well, I can give all Crawford's detractors the "kryptonite" to defeat him.

It is real simple. Grab a pen or a keyboard and start writing. That is the answer.

You heard me right; everyone has the power to battle Crawford by simply writing their views down.

See, Crawford is not special (No offense, Jim). Every single reader has the opportunity to do the exact same thing.

That little miracle is called freedom - freedom of speech mixed with a healthy dose of freedom of press.

We encourage everyone to write letters to the editor that speak on important issues, our world and our community. We have some guidelines but try to always allow community members the platform to speak, whether we agree or not.

Even beyond that, we encourage community members to write guest columns for us. Columns are a little more difficult and require some consistency.

We have extended the opportunity to many people within the community but other than three lifestyle columns on Sunday and our pastoral column, no one is willing to maintain it.

Crawford has not missed a deadline since he began.

Does that we mean we will publish anything we are given, without exception? Of course not, but the invitation remains open.

We look for someone who can make clear, coherent points on whatever that touches them at the time. A common mistake I see in submissions is that there is no opinion included.

The opinion page of the newspaper should embody all that makes a newspaper thrive - freedom of speech, diversity, storytelling, educational and interesting.

So, if you don't like an opinion you read in the newspaper, do something about it. Tell us how you feel about our views, the government, the world or anything else.

The expression of differing opinions is one of the many things that make our nation so great.

Just ask Jim Crawford. I guarantee he will tell you - in 600 words or less.

Michael Caldwell is the managing editor at The Ironton Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at