Saturday, June 16, 2007

The best story I didn't tell this week

Government is a strange thing in the United States, since in its beginning our nation came to existence only because it rebelled against intolerant, unreasonable governance. In overthrowing intolerant government, it was the aim of those who founded the country that a more citizen-oriented structure might replace the tyranny that was in place before.

So, the point to the lawyers, judges, the police officers, the tax collectors and even the uniformed members of the military was not service to some ridiculous monarch anymore.

The purpose of those people in this new republic became to serve the welfare of those governed. Those people came in service to what was right and not what a few people said was right for whatever agenda an alleged monarch set. It was a more common sense way for things to work.

That brings us to today. These towns in Northern Monmouth County, known as the Bayshore, are places where great good and evil can exist alongside each other, and all at once. At a community newspaper, if you look for stories, and not just convenient stories at that, you will find everyday goodness and run-of-the-mill cruelty in equal doses.

When my newspaper is able to help facilitate communication in the community, then that is a time when the best outcome occurs and that is special.

But then there are those things that are found when some petty and cruel official oversteps their authority and terrorizes a helpless resident in one of these towns. Indeed, usually those who are terrorized by these personality types are helpless. And it is a specific type of personality who makes the time out of their day to abuse their oath of office in a way that is so unwholesome.

Well, when some taxpayer is made afraid to a certain order then they do not want trouble, like telling their story publicly, because they may fear this government official they are being vexed with (really "the government" to their view) may be back. When a newspaper approaches them about the issue at hand, they may well explain their case and then say that if they do not create public trouble then the rest of the trouble may well go away.

In my opinion, appeasement never did anything to stop troubled personalities given a badge of office. But my reporters and my newspaper will respect the wishes of people and not bring those things to light that are not willingly offered by subjects. Nevertheless, when an egregious use of government authority occurs against the most helpless segments of our society, apparently out of nothing more than a bully's inclination in a school cafeteria, it is more than disturbing. It is actually far more than just troubling.

Residents are paying an all-time high for the services of government. These residents are paying gold-plated prices for these town officials everywhere in this area, and the very least, the absolute rock bottom, they should be able to expect is common courtesy, the everyday respect that one should give anyone, and an environment free of sarcasm and even physical violence.

Personally, bullies are my favorite thing to confront. I am not impressed with them in any way. I have never abided them to date and I cannot see any reason to change that point of view. And in news, there is no story I tell with more zeal than the one about a bully with a state title. But when a subject declines a story for fear's sake, I usually leave my cell number, tell them to call next time (and there's always a next time) and consider appeasement's track record, in general. So it's done for the moment.

Yet, last week, I found the best story I can't tell just yet. With some confidence, I am sure I will be able to tell it one of these days soon.

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