JIM CREES: It still says ‘opinions’ up there, right?

Offering an opinion can be pretty iffy under the best of circumstances.

Once upon a time, your opinion was your opinion, and people basically respected your opinion even if they didn’t necessarily agree with you.

Today, it seems that having an opinion - any opinion - is kinda dangerous. A little threatening.

It can be troublesome if you happen to have a decidedly minority opinion.

Generally speaking, I often hold what probably could be considered a “minority opinion” - at least in this area. If, for example, I were living in Portland, Oregon, or Great Barrington, Mass, I suppose my opinions would be a little more of the standard fare.

But ...here I am.

I do get some interesting letters, notes, and emails.

Such as ...

“I knew your mother, and she would be ashamed of you.”

Dear reader, you are probably correct, but not because I hold the opinions I do.

I gave my mom plenty of reason to tear her hair out, but I don’t think that thinking about things and developing an opinion was ever one of them.

Failing sixth grade because I was more enamored with the hair of the girl in front of me than in school work - THAT was an embarrassment. (I had to make up the grade in summer school.)

Getting kicked out of church camp for sneaking out of the dorm at night to meet some Baptist girls - THAT made her ashamed of me.

Getting two speeding tickets on the same day ...from the same cop ...in the same location - THAT even makes ME wonder.

There was a lot my mom was probably ashamed of, but stating my opinions wasn’t one of those things.

Now then ...

“The media are no longer news people but simply read from a prepared statement written by their superiors so they can continue to receive salaries ...Your article was beneath you and your ability.”

I don’t know if you understand the way a newspaper works, but let me assure you, nobody, Nobody, NOBODY in this organization has ever given me a “prepared statement” and told me this was my opinion. I would suggest that many - if not most - of the people who work here probably disagree with me politically. That is often obvious but, they sincerely believe in “freedom of expression” enough to allow me to write what I do ...as an opinion.

That’s why my column is an opinion column and not an editorial.

I am writing MY opinion, and not stating the newspaper’s collective opinion.

You may disagree with an opinion I may hold, but I doubt anything I write ...as an opinion ...is beneath me or my ability.

“Maybe you should forget political articles and stick to the beer stories!”

I agree.

“Your articles are good, but mostly biased.”

I hope my articles are good, but it is my opinion pieces that are “mostly biased.”

Of course they are. That’s why they are opinion pieces.

My articles are hopefully neutral - that is to say, my news articles.

There is a difference between Page One and the Opinion Page. A HUGE difference.

That’s why it’s an Opinion Page. To offer differing opinions. You may think we don’t, but we do. My opinions are usually balanced off with some offering by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, or somebody else.

“Every time I pick up the paper and see your column I can rest assured that you are going to bash the Catholics or the Republicans.”

C’mon. When I “bash” the fundamentalists - that’s OK. When I take issue with the Pope - that’s off limits?

Verily, verily I say unto you - give me a break.

I don’t “bash” Catholics or anyone else for that matter. I do “bash’ repugnant policies - denominational, religious, political or other.

“I’m so aggravated at the opinion column that I need to write. It’s my opinion that a newspaper was to report the news, and editors opinions would be limited as to what the news is, not personal references as to his feelings.”

Nope. You are wrong. In an opinion column, I am free to write my opinion and I will continue to do so despite the obvious aggravation to you.

“I suppose if you support sex and violence along with swearing, we could start by me telling you your f*%&ing ideas are stupid. With freedom of religion, or freedom of speech did not give you the right to say f*$&, s*#^, f*%^ogg, or A$&#hole and similar things, or be able to spout off how great liberals are.”

This letter actually came in response to my using the word “masturbation” in a column.

As the kids might respond - OMG!

“You are just a neo-communist.”

I have yet to figure out what a “neo-communist” is.

I assume it is something like Leon Trotsky - with mousse in his hair.

Keep the letters coming...