Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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January 14, 2013

Letters play their part in the marketplace of ideas

(Continued)

— A free society advances and strengthens itself through open debate and discussion of ideas. The purpose is to test ideas to assess their merit. Theoretically, good ideas ultimately are embraced, while bad ideas are tossed by the wayside.

It’s not always a pretty or a smooth process, and sometimes mistakes are made. But it’s a system that allows a society to examine itself on an ongoing basis.

Does that mean any given letter to the editor has ideas or beliefs that others should adopt? Of course not. Some letter writers are flat-out wrong or flat-out silly.

But should we silence them if we come to that conclusion? I don’t think so.

Along with promoting the marketplace of ideas, free expression also creates the opportunity for fools to expose themselves. There’s real value in that concept as well.

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Mitchel Olszak is a columnist for the New Castle (Pa.) News.

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