EDITORIAL: The first words

A TRICKY THING, that First Amendment of the Constitution. It protects plenty of things we’d like to know about and a lot we’d rather not.

The decision by the framers to single out the press as worthy of protection is the part that keeps me busy. And choosing what deserves protection and what’s out of bounds has become more complex in the digital world.

Consider the case of Kinderhook Councilwoman Sally Hogan. At a meeting last week the board adopted a motion condemning comments she had made on her Facebook page. Just the thought of venturing into that realm twists my stomach, but there’s no avoiding it. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Do this for others

I HATE WEARING A MASK. I hate the fog on my glasses and the anxiety of realizing I’ve left it somewhere I’m not. Now what? Pull my sweater up over my face?

You’ve heard all this before, but now there’s progress. The CDC says we don’t have to wear the mask if we’re outside, fully vaccinated and not in a crowd. It’s a little bit of freedom from mass masking. This week Governor Cuomo and the governors of Connecticut and New Jersey said they are about to remove many of the restrictions imposed last year in the earlier phases of the pandemic, so that stores and restaurants and services like hair salons and gyms and sports contests, indoors and out, not to mention movies and all manner of businesses large and small can operate in ways something like they did before Covid-19 arrived.

This is welcome news. The governors mean well. They see an opportunity to balance what appears to be a waning threat to public health from the virus against the need for economic recovery and the return of in-person public education. They have good reasons to try this “opening up.” The public has equally good reasons to be wary. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Another way to protest

WHERE WERE YOU 50 years ago? That would be May 1971. If you weren’t born then, it’s history and you can pick and choose what others can tell you about that time. But memory is an echo of experience. What you live through sticks around more or less as long as you do.

Fifty years ago I was on my way from New York to Washington, D.C. in a Volkswagen bus with some colleagues and our portable video recorders. We expected to join other independent media people to document yet another demonstration against the war in Vietnam. Our sources in the antiwar movement said this one would be different. On May Day the organizers planned to try an active form of civil disobedience. Their goal was to “shut down” the U.S. government in the nation’s capital by blocking traffic in the heart of the city.

The president at the time was Richard Nixon. A year earlier he had widened the Vietnam war by ordering an invasion of Cambodia, provoking a large demonstration in Washington. A few weeks later National Guardsmen fired on an unarmed group of students at Kent State University in Ohio. Four of the students were killed, eight wounded. U.S. troops were officially pulled out of Cambodia not long after they went in. The antiwar movement gained strength. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Who gets to decide?

ELON MUSK MIGHT BE SURPRISED, but he’s missing a big segment of the electric vehicle market. These vehicles are light-weight and inexpensive. They don’t require complex charging stations either. A wall outlet will do.

Our family has an electric Mini-Cooper, a BMW motorcycle and a pink Jeep, among others. Their top speed is somewhere around 5 mph, roughly as fast as your average grandparent. They seat one person between three and five years old and when they break down—the vehicle, not the child—they can be dragged to wherever you store items for the next yard sale.

But what’s the carbon footprint of kiddie cars? It’s likely that from their manufacture to their disposal these toys release more carbon dioxide and other compounds into our atmosphere than would be there if we adults found other ways to entertain our offspring. Read more…

EDITORIAL: What’s optimism worth?

WE’RE TEENAGERS NOW, sort of. It depends on how you count. It’s the beginning of our 13th year as a newspaper. Whether that matters is hard to tell.

If you’re 12 or older you probably remember what life was like when Covid-19 intruded late last winter. Suddenly the world was full of masks and color-coded maps, infection rates, school closings and death counts. The hush was scary.

The virus left us no choice but to “temporarily suspend” the print edition of The Columbia Paper. We had to protect the health of our drivers. Experts last year said this year would see the return to “something like” normal life before the illness arrived. Now, while parts of society open up, experts add words like “… or maybe 2022.” Read more…