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It's All In The Name Of Free Speech, Dr Rollins

DR ANDRE ROLLINS, a new face to the political scene, does not seem to understand the difference between opinion pieces -- solely the opinion of the writer -- and objective news.

In his maiden speech in the House of Assembly yesterday, Dr Rollins spent precious time lecturing us about what should or should not be said in an editorial - thus exposing his ignorance of our profession.

He objected to our opinion that the Bahamian people were "ungrateful" by not appreciating the tremendous effort made by former Prime Minister Ingraham, who successfully kept this country on course for the past five years during its worst economic challenge. Dr Rollins felt that we had no right to hold such an opinion, especially, he said, as "a people buy her Tribune each and every day to learn about what happens in their beloved country".

That is true, and each and every day The Tribune gives them in solid objective news what is happening daily in their "beloved country."

However, page four of The Tribune is devoted to various opinions. About 24 inches of that page is reserved for the opinion of the newspaper's editor, who in this case also happens to be the publisher. The rest of the page is reserved for the opinions of residents, both Bahamian and foreign. On this page, the public says what it wants -- within reason, of course. And in the editorial the editor also expresses her opinion -- no one has to agree with those opinions, but at least it starts debate and gets people thinking. If the public has free reign to express its opinions -- barring committing defamation and offending good taste -- then the editor has the same right. She makes no apology to Dr Rollins or anybody else.

As a matter of fact -- regardless of who agrees or disagrees with what was written in that editorial now under debate -- she stands by every word she wrote on May 8 under the heading, "Bahamas has lost a great leader". We wrote it. We meant it. And regardless of the Dr Rollinses of the Bahamas, we do not apologise for one word of it. This was our opinion, it is still our opinion, and the editorial is the only place in a newspaper that the editorial writer can express his or her opinion. We reserve that right.

Dr Rollins seems to believe that we have no right to such an opinion, because this would be expressing the opinion of each and every member of our staff, who might or might not agree with our opinion.

This expresses the opinion of no staff member. It just expresses the opinion of the editorial writer and the position of the newspaper, which she owns. And those who don't agree are free to do so, both in the letters column of The Tribune, on the floor of the House, which will then be published in The Tribune, and on our website, which for this particular editorial attracted 43 commentaries -- some for, some, like Dr Rollins, against. We welcome them all - that, Dr Rollins, is what democracy is all about -- each person is free to express his or her own opinion, regardless of who likes or dislikes it as long as it is within the bounds of decency.

Over the years, the PLP have had difficulty tolerating, or even encouraging, freedom of speech -- something that this newspaper has fought hard and long for. We never found that with the FNM. This does not mean that they agreed with everything we said -- often they vehemently disagreed - but unlike Dr Rollins, they never questioned our right to say it. Dr Rollins is a newcomer to the scene. He does not know how hard the fight has been to get to where we are today or to have the freedoms that we now enjoy. We suggest that he tries to catch up on his news. And, Bahamians must never forget that it was the Ingraham government that freed the airwaves.

Dr Rollins can start by asking his colleague, Fred Mitchell, how and why in 1998 he started his website, Fred Michael Uncensored. Or why in 1992 he challenged the Pindling government's election laws by broadcasting his first political advertisement from a Florida radio station.

At the time, Mr Mitchell hoped to provoke his arrest and then challenge the PLP's law on the basis that it was unconstitutional.

"This law," he said from Miami at the time, "is a treacherous law by Pindling, and no political joker is going to take away our right to free speech."

At that time, Mr Mitchell was being shut out on all sides by all sections of the press -- especially the PLP-operated ZNS. The only outlet that he had was The Tribune. This did not mean that The Tribune or its publisher agreed with what he had to say. But, what we did strongly agree with was his right to say it.

And on October 31, 1998, this is what Mr Mitchell had to say:

"Strange as it may seem, The Tribune has the fairest policy with regard to coverage of political news. They seem to understand that the news is the news and not what your editorial opinion is."

We suggest that Mr Mitchell educate Dr Rollins, because we do not intend to step back into the dark ages of the PLP when free speech was not so free. Every day this newspaper had to fight for a Bahamian's right to express himself. No longer are we a frightened society.

And Dr Rollins need not come along and try to turn back the pages of history, because The Tribune just ain't taking that route. We suggest that he try to catch up with us and learn tolerance.

Comments

dpratt 2 years, 1 month ago

I think that the Editor is out of line and is very condescending to Dr. Rollins. She believes that freedom of speech means that she can say any demeaning thing about anyone, especially members of the new government, and get away with it. That is not freedom of speech. With all the campaigning for the Free National Movement (FNM) that the Editor and The Tribune has done over the past months leading to the General Elections, she must now know that she has become, like the FNM, a failure. Her words mean nothing to the average Bahamian, who considers her a mean spirited, angry FNM supporter. We will not retreat; we will not fail, and the words of the Editor will continue to fall on deaf ears. I hope all well thinking Bahamians will stop purchasing this paper which is hell bound on destroying the Bahamas in order to ensure the failure of the PLP. As of last week, I have stopped purchasing The Tribune and I hope others will follow suit, as it is divisive and destructive and has no place in a small country that is trying so hard to survive. I was shown this Editorial today, and just had to respond.

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Concerned 2 years, 1 month ago

If divisive means that someone actually has the guts to disagree with the PLP, then I stand guilty as well. If destructive means that someone has the courage to expose the truth which differs from that being purported by the PLP, again I am guilty as charged. If ignorance means blindly following every word being fed to me by politicians, for that Sir, I am a fugitive. Mr. Rollins has neither earned nor deserved his position in the hallowed halls of the House of Assembly. He entered on the coat tail of a political party that he only a year ago vehemently spoke against. I read no anger, division or destruction in the editorial - just straight facts. It is the facts that hurt DPratt and it is facts that create the hallmark of true journalism.

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dpratt 2 years, 1 month ago

If you believe that The Tribune prints facts, then good for you. I just happened to have read a retraction of a letter that was printed, I believe, a day before the elections containing allegations against the current DPM. I would submit, the intention being to cause the PLP the elections. But alas, the Bahamian people were not fooled this time around. They went straight to the polls and voted the FNM out. I guess the press no longer has the power in The Bahamas to influence an election!!! Bravo Bahamas.

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Cc 2 years, 1 month ago

I agree wholeheartedly with EVERYTHING the editor writes in this piece.

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242 2 years, 1 month ago

I agree like and approve of this article. Which by the way is in the Editorial section.

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notsogullible 2 years, 1 month ago

Kuddoes to the editor for standing her ground. An editorial is indeed a matter of opinion and EVERYONE has the right to their opinion - YES, even with the PLP in power - We are now a free Bahamas as of 1992 ... thank you honourable Hubert Ingraham ... and thank God we will NEVER go back to the dictatorship days of the PLP. Well written editorial, Dr. Rollins was just absent on that day of his English Language class - we must try to fogive his ignorance. Dr. Rollins, here's a link to a simplistic definition: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/editorial

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242 2 years, 1 month ago

Why Rollins ain get on the blogger who believe he swim to the house of assembly to give his speech.

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Oracle 2 years, 1 month ago

APratt where were you when the Prime Minster of the Bahamas was disrespected and threaten on two occassions....please be assure this time around...there will be no free pass...A Spade will be called a Spade and a CAD a CAD.....Stupid is as stupid is....

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dpratt 2 years, 1 month ago

You mean the FORMER Prime Minister? I guess stupid is as stupid is.. The current Prime Minister is being disrespected every day by you people who cannot accept that he is, in fact, the democraticly elected leader of this country.

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242 2 years, 1 month ago

And he will continue to be until he EARNS respect. His own cabinet don't so why should anybody else. He is good at one thing though Finger pointing and not taking responsibility.

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TalRussell 2 years, 1 month ago

The Tribune Editorials is better known on the streets as the cesspool for the lies originating out of the FNM party’s plan to regain power. It’s so stinky that it would put up fight to good 'ol Blanco Bleach.

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242 2 years, 1 month ago

That explains why this website on ur favorites list

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dacy 2 years, 1 month ago

wow Talrussell yet you are allow to express your insane self daily

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242 2 years, 1 month ago

I have also never seen a Tal Russel rant deleted from an article.

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TalRussell 2 years, 1 month ago

So what, I tolerate reading the editorials.

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Cc 2 years, 1 month ago

Ummmm....you do know that you don't HAVE to read the editorials if you don't want to, right? That's the kind of "freedom" everyone is talking about.

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Ironvelvet 2 years, 1 month ago

Bravo to the editor for standing their ground! I am sick and tired of hearing you can't say or do this because ya work for government. This a democratic society of free speech. Just because you don't like what someone reports i.e. the truth doesn't mean they should keep their comments to themselves. It was posted in the editoiral section and even if it was posted in the main paper the type of article it was, a salute to a great leader, it would have been appropriate. But alas it was was placed in the proper section. When Pindling died and his accomplishments were paid tribute in the main section of all major newspapers were people irate or upset? No.

As to Talrussell, this is the only online newspaper I post on because I don't have to use my real name. I suppose that's your reason too. You ought to thank the Tribune for respecting free speech and allowing an outlet as such to post opinions on the articles written.

On an unrelated/related note, the PLP are the only government that comes in and fires everyone just to put their friends in power nevermind the great job that someone did prior to their election. The PLP is the only group that enforces a fear of expression of opinion. Its 2012 folks no more intimidation here!

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TalRussell 2 years, 1 month ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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242 2 years, 1 month ago

now he/she done it....removed lol!

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TalRussell 2 years, 1 month ago

Yeah! The Bible also says Do not consent If they (Hubert) say, "Come with my regime."

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TalRussell 2 years, 1 month ago

he Bible is the inspired, infallible Word of God,The Tribune Editorials are often inspired by the penmanship of a man from up there too, but up in cooper's Town, Abaco,. Therefore, it is important to know just which are the infallible words of truth and which belongs in Hubert's rare and limited edition book of lies, his FNM regime's 2012 Manifesto. And, all the Comrades saId; AMEN!

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242 2 years, 1 month ago

the biggest lie ever us the plp list of accomplishments. Started the....had an idea to.... dreamt that.... should not be listed as accomplishments

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concernedcitizen 2 years, 1 month ago

when you throw rock in a pack of dogs ,the one that yelp is the one you hit

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TalRussell 2 years, 1 month ago

Comrade I can picture you standing, cussing and violently throwing rocks at your neighbors’ dogs, cause you don’t like the way the little creatures yelp.

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concernedcitizen 2 years, 1 month ago

i,m am not into violence and only believe in self defense,,my father came from a line of farmers and instilled a love of animals in us ..

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PKMShack 2 years, 1 month ago

Welcome back Tal Russell. One thing you can say is that if it was not for change you would not have a place to post your nonsense.

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TalRussell 2 years, 1 month ago

What change you talking about. Haven't you heard that Hubert is already talking that FNM's are once again begging him to stay?

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PKMShack 2 years, 1 month ago

The change is Tal Russell, lop did not have a way for you to express yourself in the news paper, there was no freedom off the press, folks had to go to Miami because lop was not having it. Thats the change I'm talking about. Who do you credit with that?

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notsogullible 2 years, 1 month ago

Knowing Tal, he/she will very likely publicly credit LOP and his pingdomites because no matter what "in your face" accomplishments are seen under the FNM, they have still done nothing good for this country. I feel pretty confident that Tal is secretly thanking the Honourable Hubert Ingraham for making it possible for him/her to be writing on these blogs so don't be completely taken by his/her portrayed ignorance on this forum - because nobody could be that dumb.

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TimeForChange 1 year, 2 months ago

It's amazing when someone can actually praise the Bahamian people for voting the PLP in power. Lets see if they still feel the same way 5 years later, they will go from praising to crying their eyes out when they see the HUGE MISTAKE they made in voting in this party! And Christie deserves to be disrespected cause when you don't have a backbone then you deserve just what you get!

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