Reader has words for publisher after ‘Irresponsible words’ column

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Several readers responded to Publisher Tony Cotten this week regarding his column, “Irresponsible words, guns and politicians,” that appeared in the Jan. 18 edition of The Oldham Era. Below are their words.

Tony –
Are you trying to get a job on the Courier Journal editorial board?  We get it. You’re a Lib. Nothing inherently wrong with that.  However, we can get the Liberal viewpoint from broadcast TV and the Courier Journal any day.  
A local newspaper should reflect the views of it’s readers.   
Registered Republicans outnumber Democrats 53-37 percent in Oldham County.
The judge-executive and entire fiscal court are elected Republicans.
The county clerk, attorney, sheriff, jailer, property valuation administrator, coroner, and surveyor are elected Republicans.
How many “writers” on your staff are Republican?
You say in your editorial that you disagree with Senator McConnell. Fine.  That’s your opinion.
Then you go on to say that the majority of elected officials disagree with Sen. McConnell.  
Where did you get that fact?  
My math would indicate a different answer if the elected officials stood by party line:  Current Party Divisions of the House. 242: Republicans; 193: Democrats; Current Party Divisions of the Senate. 47: Republicans; 51: Democrats; 2: Independents. President and Vice President. 2: Democrats.  
Assuming that the two Independents disagree with Sen. McConnell too, I count 289 for McConnell versus 248 disagreeing with him.  
You refer to McConnell’s words that the “Tuscon” (it’s spelled Tucson – don’t you employ proofreaders or at least a spellchecker?) shooting should not be used to exploit any politician as something you support-then you have to get your “digs” in on Sarah Pailin [sic] as doing it to herself.  
I guess defending yourself against the vitriol of the left days after the attack is grandstanding.
Why don’t you do your readers some good?  
Why don’t you challenge yourself and your staff to reflect all viewpoints, not just those on the democratic read list?
You might investigate or editorialize on LOCAL issues.  Yes, go after the Scott Davis scandals. That should be easy, he’s a Republican.  Then maybe stretch your horizon and dig into the Oldham County School Board.
You might just increase your readership rather than chase it away.
Robert Rich
La Grange

The Era does not respond to all feedback, nor does The Era publish a response to letters of criticism published in the newspaper, however, per Mr. Rich’s request, the following is Tony Cotten’s reply.

Mr. Rich –
I thank you for your words. I am glad to see that my writing has sparked a conversation. My own rule is not debate opinions, but I must clarify one main point that I think was misread.  
I wrote in my column: “However, I also disagree with McConnell, as I do the majority of our federal elected officials. ”
I try never to make generalizations and did not make the inference I knew the thoughts of the majority of our federal elected officials in the article- only that I disagree with most all of those currently elected (both blue and red).  
Regarding the single misspell of Tucson, I apologize. It’s always embarrassing and intolerable that typos like this escape us – thanks for pointing that out.  
I do plan to explore local topics as I get to know the issues and the people more. And just so you know, I am glad to be in a Republican county. If you want to read more about my thoughts on the column I published, I speak of it on our website, OldhamEra. com under Blogs.  
My last question is: Are you okay with my publishing of your comments verbatim in the coming week’s edition? I want the community to see we are encouraging response and your writing would be a great read for our subscribers and would fit your description of “all viewpoints.”
Thanks and I look forward to meeting you.
Tony Cotten

Welcome to Oldham County.  
I just read your column on the Chamber/Rotary luncheon and agree with you that we should expect better from those in the position of public trust.
This is especially so since those people have a “bully pulpit” giving them the opportunity to influence many people; with those many people having a variety of levels of mental acuity.
We all have heard the old childhood adage, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” 
I suggest to you that this is false.
The words we use can cause great hurt, dehumanize groups of people and individuals, and provoke people to take action (violent and otherwise).  
Our speech also can motivate us to higher levels of achievement and motivate action to help rather than hurt.
I expect our elected officials to use our First Amendment rights to evoke action to the betterment of each person, not as a call to exercise some action under the Second Amendment.
Regardless of what political party one belongs, we all have to take into consideration the foreseeable responses that others will take to what we say; and then make a wise choice in speaking and acting.
Galen L. Clark