The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Western Tribune

The Western Tribune this week contains my column regarding the resolution of inclusion recently passed by Birmingham's City Council. To my knowledge, this is the first gay positive column or report pubished in a Bessemer newspaper in history. I know there are homophobic people in western Jefferson County, I ran across several while I was campaigning, but whether they read the Trib or not I don't know. But just in case, it would be nice for the Tribune to hear from readers of this column (and the paper) who support diversity in our community. I am sure they will hear from those who don't. Dan titled my column "One Vote for Diversity in Bessemer." Mine may be the first vote, but I am sure it is not the only one. Let them know. The mailing address is The Western Tribune, 1530 Third Avenue North, Bessemer, AL 35020, and their email is thewesterntrib@bellsouth.net. For those who do not have the newspaper (you can subscribe at 425-7171) the column is repeated here:

One Vote for Diversity in Bessemer

A few weeks ago I was critical of the Birmingham City Council because they failed to pass a resolution of inclusion proposed by Councilperson Valerie Abbott. The resolution would promote tolerance and respect for all residents and visitors and condemn racism, bigotry, homophobia and other forms of discrimination, and would encourage the city of Birmingham to embrace diversity.

Birmingham’s history, like Bessemer’s, does not always shine when the issues of tolerance and inclusiveness are brought forth. The words of intolerance and division that filled the chamber just weeks ago are evidence of a past that lingers, one of mistrust and hatred.

A city that has been divided has no business promoting intolerance when wounds are still healing and fences are still being mended. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” And Coretta Scott King echoed her husband’s feelings by saying “Like Martin, I don’t believe you can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny it to others” when she was speaking against discrimination against gays and lesbians in 1994.

On May 15 Birmingham righted this wrong by passing, unanimously, a modified version of the resolution for inclusion. The council members who had voted no the first time realized that voting to exclude people because of who they are presented a negative image for their city. One councilor who changed his vote, Steven Hoyt, said this was the right thing to do, after doing some research and having discussions with spiritual leaders. By voting now to reverse that decision, all residents and visitors can feel welcome and appreciated.

I wonder if the Bessemer City Council, if presented with a similar resolution, will behave like the Birmingham Council did in March with hateful speech and divisive votes, or will they show unity with a progressive vote for inclusion and tolerance. With the contributions that gays are making toward improving our city, I would hope for the latter. Bessemer is a diverse community and has been mentioned more than once by the Birmingham News as a community where gays are helping to revitalize the city by preserving their historical homes and contributing to efforts to bring cultural events and art shows. And history shows that revival of fading communities across the nation is often heavily influenced by the contributions of gays in those communities.

Resolution or not, let’s hope the leaders and followers in our community appreciate the efforts of everyone to improve our city.

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5 comments:

Jennifer said...

joe, I agree with your column. I will write the tribune about the influence that gays have had for our club since I began attending ... just from my perspective. I'll send you what I send to them if you decide its "post worthy"...

Thank goodness for a paper that will publish these insighful opinions. I think I was blackballed from the WS by the new editor just for showing support to those whose opinions he didn't share and that was unfair to the club. Why he would blackball the BHHA from the community calendar b/c of me is silly. I was disappointed in his lackluster and late coverage for the 2006 tour (which was overwhelmingly covered by surrounding communities pulications) and he hasn't published any community calendars for us either. No response to emails. I am very glad that regardless of Dan Delongs political or lifestyle views that he will make the paper an open discussion and news outlet for ALL.

Thanks Joe!

Dale Jones said...

I don't normally respond to blogs, but someone told me I was getting hit pretty hard on here, so I thought I would take just a moment to defend myself.

First in response to what Jennifer wrote here, I assure you that NO ONE at the Western Star has 'blackballed' anybody. As a matter of fact, we did NOT ONE, but TWO STORIES regarding the home tour last year. Other than the B'ham news, I"m not sure what OTHER PUBLICATIONS OVERWHELMINGLY covered the home tour any better than we did. Nevertheless, I WELCOME anything that the BHHA wants to send us or anybody else for that matter, and we will be happy to report it.

As for some of the things that Joe has mentioned on this sight, let me just say this.
Obviously Joe and I have different opinions on many things politically and that is fine. That is what makes America great. Problem is, if an opinion differs from Joe's, it is WRONG. I hate that he feels that way. Since Joe writes for the other paper in Bessemer, I obviously don't expect him to be complimentary of mine. But his opinion, as well as anyone elses is ALWAYS welcome at The Western Star. We OFTEN have editorials by other writers and opinion letters that I don't agree with, but we DO INDEED print them.
The Western Star has been the Bessemer Newspaper for 25 years. We've gone through lots of changes, and no, we are not perfect. But we are attempting to be the best paper that we can be.
Fortunately right now, our subscriptions are higher than they have been in years, our rack sales are up almost 100% from this time last year, and if things continue, this is going to be the best year The Western Star has ever had.
I encourage ANYONE to feel free to contact me regarding anything in our paper. I assure you, I would be more than happy to talk with you. We are always interested in readers opinions.
As for this blog, obviously anyone is welcomed to write what they want, but if they are going to write about me, it'd be nice if they would actaully TALK to ME first.
Thank you for your time.

Dale Jones
Editor/Publisher/General Manager
The Western Star News

Joe Openshaw said...

Dale, So now I will respond to your comment. You are right. The fact that we can have varying opinions and have the freedom to express them is one of the great things about our country. But you are 100% wrong when you say that if an opinion differs from mine, that I consider it wrong. Can an opinion be right or wrong? Maybe foolish or misguided. I will repeat that I will publish any comment whether it agrees or disagrees with mine, but after your supporter wrote the inflamatory and accusatory opinion that I deleted last week, I have added that those types of opinions will not be published.

My opinion is NOT always welcomed at The Western Star because you yourself told me so after I inquired about my letter that was not published in which I pointed out several inaccuracies in your support of George W. Bush, the Bush library, and the War in Iraq.

And as for feeling free to contact you...good luck. You and I had agreed to a meeting months ago, and after two unreturned phone calls and as many unreturned emails trying to set up a meeting, yes, I gave up. Maybe it's you, maybe it's your staff, but I never got a response. So you missed that opportunity.

So now there are two papers. You publish what you want in the Star(as you emphatically told me before) and the editor of the Tribune will publish what he wants. I have no say so over either. I only control this blog.

Dale said...

Let me try to post this again. I tried a couple of days ago and it didn't make it, but I want to make sure to set the record straight.

Joe, you are WELCOMED to come and talk to many ANYTIME. You always have been. You don't have to "set up a meeting" to talk to me. I have an open door policy and anybody who comes in can meet with me. It has ALWAYS been that way and it happens all the time.

As for your opinions, we both recall the letter you wrote to the Western Star about "things I am thankful for." While I had problems with the content of that letter and did not agree with the POINT you were trying to make, I published the letter. I've published editorials and letters in the past from others that I didn't agree with.

Not...I want to make THIS CLEAR...you said above that I told you EMPHATICALLY that I would publish 'what I want' in the paper....THAT is 100% FALSE, and is NOT what I told you. What I SAID was, I will put what I want IN MY EDITORIAL. I do have that right. PLEASE stop SPINNING what I say.

We WELCOME diverse opinions. We ENCOURAGE people to write letters.

But from here on out, if you are going to post ANYTHING about ME and use MY NAME or the name of our paper, please be sure it is the TRUTH before you present it.

Thanks.

Dale

Joe Openshaw said...

If you go to the archives of this blog, and look at the earliest ones in February, you will see that my problem is not what your opinions are, it's when you base your opinions on falsehoods as if they are fact.

Sure you printed the letter you referenced above, and I appreciate it. That letter just stated my opinions in response to yours, and was meant to be tongue in cheek. But the letter you did not print, regarding the Bush library and the Methodist Church and more, was in response to another of your editorials, and brought out the untrue statements that your editorial presented. You can state facts truthfully, and then write your opinion on them, and I have no problem with that. But when you tell a lie, and present it as fact (every person who has served would “return to Iraq in a second” ) to try to convince people, for example, that the war is a good thing and that we should agree with you on it you are not going to get away with it.

Another example is the editorial you printed about Tim Hardaway in which you state as a single sentence paragraph “Homosexuality is a choice.” Again, a lie, that you are using to try to sway public opinion against equality for gays. And again, you are not going to get away with it.

I do not expect everyone to agree with my opinions. I do expect a newspaper to be factual, even in its editorials.