Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A new blogger earns a place on the sidebar:

Brian Cooper is the Executive Editor of the Dubuque Telegraph Herald and the author of the blog "NewsConference."

His column in today's Telegraph Herald caught my attention. The TH is password protected (but free), so if you're not willing to sign up, I'll give you a few paragraphs here:

Reflecting on these troubling times - terrorism, nuclear threat and war - I was inspired to write. I hope that you will consider my words below inspiring and reassuring.

First of all, we need to show courage. Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.

We need to convert our inward focus toward public service. In other words, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.

We need to strive for human equality and justice. I hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Thank you.

What's that? You've seen those words before? The first inaugural speech of Franklin D. Roosevelt? John F. Kennedy's first inaugural? The Declaration of Independence?

Yeah, so what? Why does that matter? I agree with the sentiments, so why can't I claim that I wrote them?

That convoluted rationale for plagiarism - if you agree, the words can be yours - might strike you as far-fetched.

However, I encounter that response from tri-state residents after intercepting letters to the editor that were not written by the people who signed them. That's troubling.

In this case, it wasn't an Iowa candidate that inspired Cooper to write, it was a Wisconsinite. But the lesson attached should be heard loud and clear by candidates in this state as well. I know for a fact that some campaigns are issuing talking points or full letters to supporters for signature and submission as we speak.

I've touched on this issue before, I know. And I'm not going to claim innocence. Once, in a mad rush to generate press on an issue I don't even remember, I wrote several letters and shoved them out the door. I think a few got published, and I regret that. Writing opinions for other people to stand behind is a flatly dishonest thing to do.

Anyway, Cooper's column is a good read, and if you've got a few moments to kill today, check out his blog. I'm not sure how I missed it for this long.


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