Years ago, The Herald-Sun’s opinion section was a robust community forum, with readers’ letters sometimes stretching over two pages. Then came the ability to comment directly on stories (and the vitriol that anonymity allowed) and now social media.
One of our goals is to rebuild the opinion section online and in print by regularly asking you what you think about the issues in the communities we cover. We'll do it online, we'll do it in print, and we'll do it on my Facebook page, where this past week we had vigorous discussions on the Orange County Schools' Confederate flag quandary and NC Pride's decision to hold its annual LGBTQ celebration on Yom Kippur, the Jewish holy day.
How can you participate? Please send up to 300 words to firstname.lastname@example.org, comment on our stories online or post your thoughts on my Facebook page (send me a Friend request) when I link to our top stories each day. Remember all comments may be edited for space and clarity and may appear with your name in print and online.
Here is a sampling of what you said on my Facebook page this week ...
About journalism teacher Paul Isom’s column calling for a ban on the Confederate flag in schools:
Argus Jones: Growing up in the Deep South as a white person I never thought much about the Confederate flags I observed being sold as souvenirs, etc. I did notice the flags were waved at KKK matches in downtown Hartselle, Alabama in the late 70s and early 80s. I really begin to notice the flags after conversations with some Black friends about what the flag meant to them.
I've heard the "heritage, not hate" arguments but it seems to me that when hate is displayed toward people of color, LBGTQ people, and women that flag often appears. Why?
It seems to be used as a form of intimidation. Many flags have flown over parts of the Deep South (Six Flags over Georgia), yet, it's always the Confederate one that the "heritage-lovers" choose to brandish. Why?
Earl Hadden: I hope Mr. Isom isn't teaching our children to be biased in their reporting. Many of us respect our history while recognizing that the beliefs in the past are repugnant based on current mores. Respect our history!
On a Durham faith group’s offering sanctuary to an immigrant facing deportation to El Salvador:
Bob Finch: Why is ICE deporting people, who have no current criminal activities? President Trump wanted criminal aliens deported. Aliens that were causing problems deported and that was the same for President Obama.
Sam Bryan: I was fortunate to be at this event. To see the faith community living out its faith following in the footsteps of other faith leaders who stepped out to put themselves on the line to fight for social justice. Durham at its best.
And this, asking why some people get upset when we publish photos of drag queens at the NC Pride parade:
Stephen Raburn: In a word: homophobia. In the same way the "tolerant," "not a racist bone in my body" crowd can usually keep their disdain for anyone who doesn't look like them in the closet until the likes of a Colin Kaepernick sounds off or a brown man is elected president... spraying images of drag queens in all their festive glory right there on the pages of the good ol' Herald-Sun is just a little too much to stomach. But as long as blacks stay at the back of the bus and gays stay in the closet and women in the kitchen and children are seen and not heard and Muslims out of America..... straight, white, "Christian" men can get along with everyone. :)
Dan Leonard: All segments of the LGBT community need to be pictured. including ordinary middle aged men and transpeople.
Mark Schultz is the managing editor of The Herald-Sun. You can reach him at email@example.com and 919-829-8950.