September 26, 2020

Editorializing Untruths (Also Know as Lies)

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I can editorialize like anyone and sometimes my stuff is good and sometimes it isn’t. One thing I work hard at, and I’m not going to sit here and tell you I have never passed on false information, but I work hard at making every attempt to seperate facts that I have personally witnessed, known facts that come from other sources and opinion.

Personally being witness to an event is perhaps the best way to be able to relate to readers what I witnessed. I realize, as do you, that what I see and what I write to pass on to my readers is my perception of what I saw. There’s not a lot I can do to change that.

Passing on known facts is a bit trickier. When I read or hear stories from other sources, I try to find as much information before passing it on. This way I get more than one person’s perspective. If I pass on something that came from someone else, I usually will state from where it came and when I can, I’ll give you a link to where I found it.

Opinions are the easiest part of being a journalist or a writer. You simply let your readers know that you are saying is your opinion. That way you can babble on. Of course it helps when you can back up your opinions with some known facts.

Now that you know where I am coming from, I would like to make reference to an editorial I read in the Burlington Free Press out of Burlington, Vermont. The editorial I assume, was written by the editors of the newspaper as there was no specific writers name signed to the copy. This is not unusual.

The editorial addresses coyote hunting in Vermont and how the coyote hunting derbies are giving hunters a bad name. I am going to show you why this is a bad editorial and it has nothing to do with whether coyote hunting derbies are giving hunters a bad name. I will quote sections of the editorial so you don’t have to keep jumping back and forth between articles. I would suggest you read the editor’s entire piece as it is a reflection on all hunters. At the end of this piece, I will close with my opinion.

He begins his piece by stating some history. I don’t know if what he is stating is fact or fiction but it sounds good. At the end of his historic introduction he adds a little bit to make you believe he is all for hunting.

The coyote population is healthy and there is no regulated season for coyote hunting. That should not change.

I have no problem with this. I do the same thing myself. The editor jumps right into the meat and potatos of his article.

But the new coyote tournaments, in which prizes or cash are awarded as part of a killing derby, have no place in Vermont. The Fish and Wildlife Board ought to ban such competitions.

He has made his statement and now he needs to back it up. One problem with his statement is he is tipping his hand and losing credibilty by calling the coyote derbies “killing derbies”. That’s called negative press. He could have left that out and actually had a better opening statement.

It gets worse from here. He begins by making a statement that begins with “Critics said”.

Critics said last year’s derby was a bloody spectacle, so organizers are taking steps this year to cleanly dispose of carcasses. Still, any hunting event that creates such a gruesome display is not good for the sport.

This would have been a great supporting statement for his original opening statement but it’s hearsay. Critics? What critics? He could have named some sources and quoted them. So I have to toss this out. I would call this an inflammatory statement. He wasn’t there at any of the tournaments so he doesn’t know what happened. He should clarify that.

Which brings me to a point I want to make. I have never been to one either and I have made that truth known many times. I am not here to disagree with what the editor has to say about the hunting derbies. I couldn’t in all honesty do that because I’ve never attended one.

This is part two of his argument base.

In addition, too many animals were discarded after the kill rather than properly harvested for fur. This creates a negative image of Vermont’s hunting ethic and erodes the sport’s acceptance.

How does he know this? On what basis is he using to make this statement? Did this come from the same “critics” he opened with?

Now on to the final part of his argument base.

Finally, these tournaments have prompted more landowners to post their property. The hunting community cannot afford to alienate neighbors or behave in a manner that encourages posting. All hunters will pay the price.

This is part opinion and part fact I guess. He states that landowners are now posting their land because of coyote derbies. What proof does he have of that? The conclusion of this paragraph is obviously his opinion.

From here, the writer tells about how hunters and the rest of Vermont citizens and business are going to pay a price for lost revenue from a decline in hunting because of coyote derbies.

Now we’re on to what he says are statements made by tournament organizers and the fish and game departments. This will be the writers attempt at supporting the coyote, patting the backs of the fish and game department officials and telling them to ban the tournaments.

Supporters of the tournaments argue that derbies are needed to reduce the number of predators killing deer. Wildlife officials agree that coyotes take deer, but dispute the notion that the impact is significant. Coyotes prefer to dine on whatever is easiest to obtain, even berries, pets and garbage.

And wildlife officials argue that large-scale kills actually prompt coyotes to increase their reproduction, birthing larger litters to sustain their existence.

Lawmakers are considering a change in state law to ban these tournaments. But hunting decisions are best made by the Fish and Wildlife Board, with its understanding of these issues.

He finally pleads for the future of the Vermont hunting community.

For the sake of Vermont’s hunting community, this board ought to take the appropriate step of banning the tournaments.

I haven’t a clue as to whether anything the writer wrote is fact or not. I think I know when he is presenting his opinion but I guess I am to assume that seeing as this is an editorial, it is all opinion.

I don’t know what goes on at coyote derbies. I have been trying to find out from anyone who is not biased about them – meaning have financial stakes in them to some degree. Until I can get to one and see with my own eyes, I can only report on what I can read and hear.

The entire basis of the editor’s article as he states it, is his fear that coyote hunting tournaments are giving hunting and hunters a bad name. He states it in his title “Coyote Tournaments Harm Hunting Image”. I don’t know if they are or not but there is one thing that I know (and this is my opinion), negative press, including editorials such as this one and newspapers, radio, television, etc., that choose to print lies and inflammatory stories dealing with all hunting issues, is what is harming the hunting image.

I will use the writer’s same structure and end my editorial with a statement like his.

“For the sake of Vermont’s hunting community, someone needs to take the appropriate steps to ban media that prints lies.”

Tom Remington

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