The First Amendment protects perhaps our most cherished right, freedom of expression. It’s printed atop this page.

This newspaper, and this page in particular, is guided in part by an unwritten contract with this community to provide its people a forum to exercise that right.

It is dedicated to the proposition that no voice should go unheard. In journalism school, we called it the marketplace of ideas.

Ideas are sometimes extreme. Sometimes people think the ideas printed on this page are too extreme.

Such is the case with a letter to the editor last week that asserted that the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent vaccines are among efforts manufactured by corrupt politicians and evil central banking powers to establish world dominance.

The writer is a regular contributor to this page and a longtime member of this community. I also consider his views extreme, but even though I disagree with what he says — and the sources he uses to support his conclusions — I will always defend his right to have his say.

One reason I believe it is important to publish the broadest number of perspectives is because another job of this newspaper is to hold a mirror up to our community. We say it right on the front page nameplate: “Reflecting you ... every hour, every day.”

By holding up that mirror, The Daily Reflector informs readers who their neighbors are and what they believe. Our community can then embrace the ideas and actions they believe are good, address the ones they believe are dangerous, and debate the ones over which they disagree in hopes of reaching a fair compromise. None of this can happen if viewpoints are censored at the source.

The Reflector’s motto has long been “Truth in Preference to Fiction.” Hopefully this page allows readers to present their truths so that others can decide how much of it is fiction. I thought the absurdity of the letter published last week would speak for itself. Maybe it didn’t.

We received feedback that publishing it would discourage people from getting one of these crucial, free, widely available, safe and effective vaccinations. That was not my intent.

The publication of any letter here should in no way be construed as an endorsement of the writer’s positions.

For the record, I and most others here believe what science and common sense have shown: the benefits of the vaccines far outweigh the risks. Vaccinating as many people as possible is the surest way to overcome this deadly plague, protect ourselves, our loved ones, friends and neighbors, and get back to the prosperity and freedoms we enjoy.

Until then, we cannot forget that we are in a fight for our lives.

Get the vaccine

There are several options for free vaccination appointments in the Greenville area:

Bobby Burns is the executive editor at The Daily Reflector and Adams Publishing Group-ENC.