Upon reflection, I need to admit that the Chronicle has been part of an unhealthy debate going on in this country over our national politics.

That absurdity of the debate has been played out on the editorial pages of the newspaper and in some of our Sound Off calls. It is time for it to stop.

You know the opinions I am talking about. One letter writer will make wild claims and then in a few days another partisan will write in and object to those claims. Along the way, they both taking personal shots at each other for being un-American or just plain dumb.

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In the end, no opinions are changed and everyone ends up unhappy.

Many people just stop reading.

Over the past few years, we have frequently rejected letters from writers who make accusations based on their political filter and not on the facts. But we have also printed many letters and Sound Offs that have just gone too far.

In a most recent absurd case, two letter writers wanted us to sit down in a face-to-face negotiation so we could all argue about who is right.

I would rather explain algebra to my dog.

The Chronicle is a local newspaper that focuses on what is happening in Citrus County. I have staff members who have covered local government for more than 30 years and have a deep understanding of what is happening on the local level.

We have no such expertise on national affairs. We are not the arbitrators of the fact and fiction presented to Americans today. What I do know is that the bitter advocates on both sides of the debate are doing great damage to our nation.

In America, I would like to think we have a tradition of coming together to find consensus on our problems. We can disagree with great emotion, but in the end, we are still Americans.

Remember, it took more than 125 years for us to agree that women deserved the right to vote. Is there anyone out there who still wants to argue that men and women should not have equal rights? The great part about our constitutional form of government is that it can withstand structural changes that broaden the rights of citizens.

The American who lives across the street is not your enemy. They might be a citizen with a different political view than you have, but in this country, we live together and grind through the issues until we find resolution.

Today I am letting everyone know that we are going to tighten up the standards on what kind of letters to the editor we publish in the Chronicle. We are wide open for letters about local issues and I urge you to take advantage of that invitation.

The same standards will apply to Sound Off calls.

I want to hear about problems in our community or people doing great things. And it’s fine if you want to criticize or praise local officials and their actions.

However, we are going to be much more selective about publishing opinions on national issues, especially when it comes to vilifying the folks on the other side of the debate. We are not experts on the national or international issues and we don’t want to be.

In addition, we do not have the resources to spend hours fact checking many of the claims that are made in the letters or Sound Off.

I personally blame social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter for the deterioration of our civil discourse. In addition, there is a new class of political professional who believe using fear and anger is a great way to win voters.

It might be good for the politicians, but it’s awful for the country.

We are going to try to be more responsible going forward. Letters on national issues will be considered, but once the insults and name-calling begins, they will be rejected.

We are a local newspaper and we want to celebrate, criticize and opine about the issues in our community.

Gerry Mulligan is the publisher of the Chronicle. Email him at gmulligan@chronicleonline.com.

(10) comments

ChinaJoeBiden

Nearly all the "hateful letters" printed by the Chronicle the past 4 years have been directed at President Trump.. Odd and orchestrated timing by the Chronicle. Obvious even to the most casual observer..

ChinaJoeBiden

Only done to protect letters being critical of the new Administration of ChinaJoeBiden and CommieLaHarris....Would never have happened if President Trump were still in office...

LWillis

Thank you Mr Mulligan for this. Our Chronicle is a treasure and should be treated as such. It is a "local" newspaper and should focus on local issues and news. I especially like stories and columns about local folks doing good, living life and enjoying life in our beautiful county.

ChinaJoeBiden

Too little and way too late. This step should have been taken before the Presidential election. The Chronicle dropped the ball. As a result I agree you did turn off many readers and your credibility has been tainted. It you are true to your word and this is not a smokescreen because of the huge failures of the current administration you may regain some readers including myself and my family.

KerryM

Hey ChinaJoeBiden

You're the dumb dumb he's referring to. And I'm the dumb dumb on the other side of you replying.

ChinaJoeBiden

Name calling and insults,, the last refuge of the intellectually bankrupt... :)

Ssabmud

So, ChinaJoeBiden, how did you spend your Covid Stimulus check that was voted down by the Republicans.

DebraR

Excellent question...thanks for making me giggle!

ChinaJoeBiden

Donated to my favorite local charity like I have done with all stimulus checks. The collateral damage from this out of control spending by the ChinaJoeBiden and the Demcocrats will destroy this country. :)

CitrusCo Citizen

Bless your heart, ChinaJoe, for serving as a perfect example of what hateful name-calling sounds like. You are exactly who the editor is referring to and why the Chronicle is changing course and will not be printing any more hateful letters. Enough is enough. We have many sources for national and international news--we subscribe to the Chronicle for local news and that's what we'll get from now on. If you can't say anything nice then you won't be saying anything at all in the Citrus County Chronicle, thank goodness!

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