The Madison County Journal
November 7, 2001
I refuse to be terrorized
A number of people have asked me why I don't write more about
the terrorists. The answer is simple. I refuse to be terrorized!
The purpose of terror attacks is to disrupt our nation and destroy
our way of life. When they cause us to change the way we live,
they have won.
For example, every time we find a small amount of unidentified
powder, we go into an anthrax panic. Why? Our chances of being
infected by anthrax are a tiny fraction of the chance of being
injured in automobile wrecks. Every year, more property is damaged
by hurricanes and tornadoes than by terrorist bombs.
Now don't get me wrong. Terrorism must not be tolerated. Those
who deliberately set out to kill or injure our citizens for political
reasons should be hunted down and properly punished. Full precautions
must be taken at critical points such as power stations, major
bridges and airports. But we the people should not go into a
tizzy every time something happens.
If I refuse to fly because I am afraid someone may hijack the
plane, the terrorists have won. If I am reluctant to open my
mail because it might contain a poison, the terrorists have won.
If our news operations ignore local news so they can give terrorism
excessive coverage, the terrorists have won.
So, I keep up with the news about terrorism. I try to be aware
of events around me. But I refuse to let the acts of a few nuts
change the way I conduct my life.
The quality of life in my community is of greater importance.
The ability of our elderly citizens to be warm this winter is
an immediate concern that needs to be addressed. Reducing routine
crimes like shoplifting, welfare fraud, car theft, assault and
family violence must take up the greater amount of our attention.
President Bush is right. The best way that "We the People"
can fight terrorism is to go about our lives as if nothing has
happened. Let's keep flying when flying is appropriate. Let's
use the bridges to travel in our great cities. Let's open our
mail, (except for those unwanted credit card applications) without
I refuse to be terrorized. I will have little more to say on
the subject. I support our military in their fight against the
terrorists, and willingly pay taxes to give them the best equipment
and training possible. But there are many more areas that need
public attention, and I will try to keep my readers informed
Let's get back to living our normal lives. If we do that, we
win and the terrorists lose.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal.
His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net. His e-mail address
The Madison County Journal
November 7, 2001
On media and war
William Sherman hated newspapers so much he threatened to have
several reporters hanged. And while the Civil War press was justified
in some criticism of Sherman, newspapers were at times reckless
in their war reporting and even ruthless in their portrayal of
the famous general, calling him "insane" on several
occasions. (See "Sherman's Other War" by John Marszalek.)
The Civil War and Sherman are a part of history. But Sherman's
sentiment toward the press lives on in others.
And as our new war progresses, loathing for the media will increase
as reporters push leaders for answers to difficult questions.
But keeping the big picture in focus is crucial during trying
Remember that some governments have total control over the media
during wars - and otherwise. In these nations the press is viewed
as a tentacle of the war effort, meaning that disinformation
- or calculated lying - is not out of the question if it accomplishes
an objective, such as controlling public sentiment.
America is different. We have press freedom guaranteed by the
First Amendment, an essential element of democracy. State-run
media is a sure indicator of a population without any real control
of its government.
So our press freedom is one of our greatest strengths, even if
many feel our press is not.
But wartime tests this freedom. It puts journalists and military
strategists in a constant grapple of truth versus consequence.
Journalists demand the truth. Strategists demand that people
realize that the truth may have grave consequences.
Just as a pitcher knows not to announce his next pitch to the
batter and a football coach knows better than to issue a press
release that he will run a double reverse on the game's opening
play, a general with any good sense won't announce exactly where
his troops will be arriving in a week.
But the public should expect the government and military leaders
to provide enough information for people to establish a perspective
on what's happening. The American public has a human and financial
investment in the war effort. So a reflection of how the war
is proceeding is due.
The press must continue to push for a truthful overview of what's
happening, while considering how enemies might view what they
report and how to avert any advantage they may get from this.
And the public should realize that they control their intake
of information, not the media. Face it, there is no overplaying
this story. The terrorist acts and the new war are the biggest
events in a generation. No news organization can ignore what's
happening. Turn on the TV, turn on the radio, log on to the Internet,
pick up a paper, and news of the new conflict will be there.
Because it must.
While staying informed is important, people shouldn't become
gluttons for punishment, tying themselves to a sofa in front
of CNN for hour upon hour.
There's too much to live for to waste the days away like that.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.