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Recently, a gentleman in Stevensville wrote the Star about newspapers. His opinion of Lee newspapers was correct but his overall criticism much too mild–good people sometimes have a problem understanding the depths of human malice.

Like shuffling and dealing a deck of cards, newspapers shuffle and deal facts to their reading audience every day – at least, that’s what a good (fit for a purpose) newspaper does. Now there are various clever ways a newspaper can “spin” out news stories — i.e. can inject its own opinion, interpretation and agenda into its offering to the readers.

A newspaper that withholds information, sows ignorance; if it publishes wrong information, it sows delusion; and should it promulgate a lie or practice censorship, it sows illusion (false impressions). For instance, in a Letter to the Editor someone may hold an opinion that dovetails nicely with majority opinion but neither that individual or the majority would ever know that they think alike, because a newspaper censors their letters. Clearly, it’s an easy matter for a dishonest newspaper to control local dialogue – manipulate public opinion. Let me briefly digress.

When my work career began at age sixteen (1951) Montana was a state full of mostly working-people – miners, loggers, ranchers, oil-drillers, farmers, etc. A considerable amount of business in those days was conducted by no more than a few spoken words and a handshake. Our per capita income stood at about the national median – half the states higher, half lower than Montana in per capita income. “Government of the people, by the people, for the people” in Montana was working well at that time. Honestly employed at a living-wage; enjoying some prosperity and our stake in America – it was very easy to live in that Montana.

Into Montana’s natural simplicity, in 1959, like the old Wooden Horse rolling through the gates into ancient Troy, came Lee Enterprises, the new owners of the old Anaconda Company newspapers. Forty-five years later (2004) our per capita income had fallen from the national median all the way to forty-ninth among the states, virtually dead last. Here is an explanation.

Democratic government rests upon a fundamental assumption – the belief that the majority of members of a society can reach the right decision most of the time. (If we do not believe that then why should we cling to our democratic republic?) However, the majority will be unable to reach the right decision most of the time unless two conditions are satisfied: first, the majority must be educated–be able to read and write; and second, the majority must be fully, accurately, and truthfully informed. (That’s why a Free Press and Free Speech.) What can be inferred from that is this: our dramatic fall in per capita income (twenty-fifth to forty-ninth) could only have happened if the majority of Montanans were reaching the wrong decision most of the time. Now Montanans are educated so lack of education is not the cause of reaching those wrong decisions most of the time. Lee Enterprises owns newspapers in four of our five major cities–we have not been fully, accurately, and truthfully informed.

Let us conduct a little thought-experiment. Montana itself has not changed – e.g. the mountains, the land, etc. – and the increasing wealth we see in the midst of increasing poverty and unhappiness has not happened because of some law of nature. Wealth and ease for a few in Montana and poverty and misery for many has happened because the people in Montana have changed. Our state – particularly Missoula – has become a Gay Playground. Several years ago, heterosexual Missoulians ran off an arrogant hostile, closet-gay writer and English professor, Leslie Fiedler, because he wrote some things that insulted Montanans. Modern-day Missoula and its local culture is firmly under the control of homosexuals.

I am still persuaded that Editor Sherry Devlin of the Missoulian believes that dead Montanans are reincarnated as grizzly bears. Why? Well, for some years Ms. Devlin was Lee’s ace environmental reporter and protectress of Montana’s grizzly bears. She’s a big part of the reason why the quality of life of the bears far surpasses the quality of life of Montana’s poorer citizens. Consider: Grizzly bears are rigorously and diligently protected by laws. Moreover, huge areas of the public lands have been set aside (gated-off) guaranteeing the bears both an undisturbed home and a perpetual food supply. I believe Montana’s poor would love a deal like the bears have – undisturbed home and perpetual food supply! And if a New Yorker drives west and gets mauled by a Montanan, the Montanan goes to jail; if mauled by a grizzly bear, the bear usually gets a free pass. Why should that be? And of course Lee is diligent in reminding us ignorant savages that we should be willing to accept considerable less per capita income for the privilege of living in Montana. Why doesn’t Lee preach that gospel to the bill collectors?

In Nature inequality between individuals is the rule, for without that inequality there would be no movement in our species; it would become stagnant like water does when it stops flowing. There was always a lot of buzz in Missoula about “diversity,” but that was simply a way of throwing sand in the public’s eyes.

The Missoulian newspaper and U of M have for years worked tirelessly to produce a “homosexual” Missoula – real Gay PLayground. I am predicting that just as water becomes stagnant and undrinkable when it stops flowing so too shall Missoula become stagnant and irrelevant. Let Lee enjoy the fruit of the tree it long ago planted.

Leon Salois

Corvallis

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