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Police, Press Both Crucial




Thomas Jefferson famously wrote that he would prefer newspapers without a government to a government without newspapers. By enabling outsiders to challenge the government, freedom of the press provides a potential check against abuses from government.

I'm glad your editor exercised freedom of the press by describing her recent experience with a Eureka police officer.

In last week's Journal, letter writer Aaron Gottschalk ("Editor Just a Jerk?" Mailbox) asks "how is the public supposed to know anything but what your one-sided and subjective reporting and updates describe?"

Mr. Gottschalk turns Jefferson's thinking upside down: the police can easily publish their views or get them broadcast.  We only rarely read challenges to the police version of events.

The attacks on your editor, worse online than in the letters section, remind me too of Benjamin Franklin's words: "Those who would trade in their freedom for their protection deserve neither."

The police have a tough job -- they run toward problems the rest of us would just as soon run away from. Officers deal constantly with those who are mentally ill, addicted to alcohol or other drugs, or who have just stolen something -- I imagine it's hard to avoid getting an us versus them attitude.

I'm grateful to police officers for helping when we are in need of help. Still, it's important for both police and the general public to carefully watch the boundary between authority and freedom. I think that's what the Journal's editor was doing, and I'm grateful to her for playing her part in protecting our freedoms.

It seems more and more Americans have forgotten the origins of the United States. We were founded by immigrants to North America who staged a revolution against the Crown, which claimed its authority came from God. It's tempting and dangerous to forget that.

Mitch Trachtenberg, Trinidad

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