Please don’t confuse me with the facts

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 10, 2002

I made a mistake in a post-election column last week.

A reader left messages on my phone twice Thursday to make sure I was aware of my transgression.

In commenting on the idiocy and subsequent justifiable crushing and humiliating defeat of the road tax referendum, I stated that we do not like being taxed and that there were well-heeled special interests who were supporters of the measure and who wanted everyone else to pay for it, all of which, of course, is keenly insightful.

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In doing so, I mentioned that Harbour View was about the only precinct in Suffolk to support the measure and that those wealthy folks just wanted the rest of us rabble to build better roads for them to drive their fancy cars on. We’re already paying their personal property taxes for them.

Unbeknownst to me, however, the &uot;Harbour View&uot; precinct where people cast their ballots is apparently completely distinct from the &uot;Harbour View&uot; subdivision where snobby rich people live. How stupid is that?

Anyway, the Harbour View where apparently the majority of people have teenie-weenie brains and attempt to practice democracy is somewhere else. I don’t know where and don’t really care. Nor am I overly embarrassed that I made a factual error. I’ve spent nearly 20 years in this business writing opinion pieces such as this and I’ve always strived not to let myself get bogged down by what I consider to be peripheral issues like facts, fairness and people’s feelings. None of which much enter into the equation.

What’s important in an opinion piece is the idea you try to put forth, the emotion you seek to evoke or the action you seek to initiate.

After the election, despite how much I may personally need one, I was not seeking to present a geography lesson, but to point out the inconsistency in voters’ wishes. We say – and by we I mean middle-aged white males such as myself of modest means who drink domestic beer and mow our own grass – we deplore taxes and will not only not vote for, but are downright hostile toward anyone who as much as has a distant relative who was rumored to have once spoken of taxes in a not entirely negative context. Yet we have no problem with electing people by landslides who will spend the money our government already extorts from us in the most foolish possible ways – i.e. turning it over to wealthy people to pay their car taxes and giving free rides to big corporations who shower big contributions on politicians to get legislation passed that allows them to loot our 401ks to pay for their Harbour View homes. It doesn’t make any sense.

Regardless, where Harbour View is, is not the point.

This, of course, is not to say that my error is acceptable. It is not. It’s just that the opinion page is different than the rest of the paper. There, facts and details are not only important, but central to the work we do, the smallest of which is as important as the biggest. I have and will continue to suspend or fire people who frequently disregard them.

Now, for obvious reasons, I’m not likely to take such action against myself (there’s that fairness thing again to which I referred earlier). No, my punishment is a public atonement such as this and having to correct my error. And if I ever find out where the &uot;Harbour View&uot; voting precinct is, I’ll gladly do that. I imagine it’s around here somewhere.

Andy Prutsok is editor and publisher of the News-Herald.