The Right Response: Thoughts on endorsements, Boy Scouts and the King James Bible

The Right Response: Thoughts on endorsements, Boy Scouts and the King James Bible

February 20th, 2013 in Opinion Free Press

Free Press editorial page editor Drew Johnson regularly replies to emails, letters to the editor and online comments in "The Right Response" column.

Roger Tuder seems like exactly the kind of low-tax, pro-business conservative that the Free Press editorial page should endorse. I'm very upset that you endorsed Priscilla Simmons over him for District 2 City Council.

Free Press endorsements are made almost exclusively based on how each candidate responds to a series of questions in our endorsement interviews. During the course of her interview, Priscilla Simmons outlined a number of ways to reduce wasteful spending and trim the city budget. As a result, if elected, I believe Simmons will serve as a much-needed watchdog of tax dollars on the council. That makes her worthy of the endorsement.

That's not to say that Roger Tuder doesn't deserve to be elected. His personal business history, firm stance against tax increases and desire to eliminate burdensome regulations make him an outstanding candidate.

The hardest part of writing endorsements -- maybe the single toughest part about running an editorial page -- is choosing between principled, quality candidates when they are running for the same position. Deciding whether to endorse Roger Tuder or Priscilla Simmons in District 2 was a very difficult choice. As was selecting Chip Henderson over Jim Folkner in Disctrict 1. Henderson and Folkner may be the two best candidates out of everyone running for city council. It's too bad that they're running for the same seat.

One other candidate for city council who sticks out as particularly worthy of an endorsement -- even though the Free Press endorsed Larry Grohn -- is District 4 candidate Ryan King. I'd love to see King's name on the ballot in the future if he doesn't win his bid for council.

During our candidate interviews, it became clear that there are more good people running for city council than there are seats to fill. That speaks well for the future of Chattanooga city government.

In the Free Press' District 7 endorsement of Chris Anderson, you only mentioned Anderson and incumbent Manny Rico. Where was the love for Tramble Stevens and Karl Epperson? Did you not realize they were running?

Tramble Stevens failed to show up to his endorsement interview and Karl Epperson did not respond to our efforts to meet with him. In fact, they were the only two candidates out of the 28 men and women running for city office on the March 5 ballot who did not make themselves available for an endorsement interview. As a result, we were unable to seriously consider them for endorsement -- especially when their opponents, Manny Rico and Chris Anderson, both met with the Times Free Press editorial pages and spoke with us at length.

Space constraints prevented us from mentioning several other candidates, including conservative mayoral hopeful Chester Heathington and several candidates in the crowded District 4 race to unseat Jack Benson, including Ryan King, Tom Tomisek and Scott McColpin (all of whom, in our view, would make better councilmembers than the incubent).

The omission of their names was not intended as a snub. It's just a fact of life that not everything we write fits on the page.

It's not right for the Free Press to say that the Boy Scouts should allow homosexuals to be Scouts and Scout leaders. Having gay Scout leaders will mean that boys will be raped and molested.

Confusing gay men for child molesters and pedophiles is offensive, inappropriate and scientifically unfounded. The outdated notion that gay people are more likely to molest children than the general population has been debunked by numerous scholarly studies. The American Psychological Association makes it clear that "homosexual men are not more likely to sexually abuse children than heterosexual men are."

Assuming that homosexuals and pedophiles are one and the same displays a sort of bigotry that has no place in today's society.

Why was former East Ridge city manager Tim Gobble allowed to respond to the Free Press editorial that outlined his controversial tenure?

In regular Times Free Press news stories, the subjects of an article are always asked to tell their side of the story. In instances when we don't interview the subject of a Free Press editorial and the editorial exposes facts that have not appeared elsewhere in the paper, we feel it's appropriate to allow them the opportunity to respond, if they'd like.

In the case of Gobble, who reached a settlement to leave his position as East Ridge city manager days after an editorial outlining his questionable expenditures and controversial hiring practices appeared in the Free Press, he wanted to defend himself.

A response shouldn't be taken as a correction. We stand behind the facts illuminated by our editorials, unless otherwise noted. It is only fair, however, to allow people whose performance or conduct is in question to respond.

Why did you stop using the King James translation of the Bible verses in the "Bible Wisdom" part of the Free Press page? Other versions are just peoples' opinion.

It's always intrigued me that people believe there is a right and a wrong translation of the English Bible. After all, the book began as oral tradition -- stories told, refined and spread by ordinary folks. Then, after it was written down, it was translated dozens of times by hundreds of people in at least three languages over the course of 1,200 years before it was ever even written in English.

Realistically, if one translation of a Bible verse makes it easier for more people to read and understand than another, we reserve the right to use it.