Exposed: One editor's philosophy and personal history

January 16, 2008|By BOB MAGINNIS

For a long time now, columnist Charley Reese has devoted one column at the beginning of each new year to telling readers about his core beliefs, possible conflicts of interest and organization memberships.

It's a good idea, so I've started to do the same myself. It might not convince readers who have a preconceived notion of who I am or what I believe, but here goes.

I am 58 years old and have worked for The Herald-Mail ? in a variety of jobs ? for more than 30 years. Long service does not necessarily make anyone wise or more knowledgeable, but I feel I have learned a few things over the years.

The older I get, the more conservative I become, but not so much so that I don't believe government has a large role in bettering citizens' lives.


Just as conservatives go too far when they advocate a "survival of the fittest" philosophy of government, liberals lose me when they begin trying to regulate every aspect of life, such as how much fatty food I can eat.

I'm not a chemist and don't have a lab available to me, so I want the government to do tests and tell me if there's lead in my grandchildren's toys. I know bacon cheeseburgers aren't health food, but sometimes I want one anyway.

In other words, I want government to let me do what I can do for myself and protect me from potential harm that I'm not qualified to detect.

I belong to two organizations - the Exchange Club of Hagerstown and the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coalition. The Exchange Club, which is a service club like the Rotary or Lions Club, raises money for a variety of local causes, but its main charity if the prevention of child abuse.

I'm in the coalition because I believe that unplanned pregnancies lead to a host of other ills, including poverty, child abuse and neglect and an eventual increase in the prison population. In my lifetime, American culture has changed, so that teen girls are no longer ashamed if they get pregnant.

It might be too late to bring back shame, but we ought to be able to make young men and women think about the opportunities that they ? and their children ? will miss if an unplanned pregnancy occurs.

And when you talk about pregnancy, you must talk about abortion. For a long time I believed that on that subject - and many others ? that it's too easy for men to tell women what they ought to do.

But over time, I've come to believe that there should be more incentives for a woman to give birth and then put her child up for adoption.

Several people I know who have tried to adopt have told me that adopting a child in the U.S. is too complicated. So many Americans pay thousands of dollars to adopt overseas. There must be some way, without sanctioning the sale of children, to compensate American mothers for going through pregnancy.

Pushing such an approach would help the national Democrats shed their reputation as the party that believes killing babies is OK.

Speaking of parties, I'm a registered Democrat, but in the past have voted for Republicans such as Bob Dole, because I felt that once in office, he would shed the party rhetoric and do what was best for all citizens. If that sounds naive, I plead guilty.

I have been married for 30 years this month and we have two grown sons, one of whom is a teacher at Antietam Academy, the old alternative school for students who couldn't or wouldn't learn in a traditional classroom setting.

That potential conflict of interest prevents me from commenting on the issue of when a new facility for such students will be built, though I do have an opinion. My son and I have also agreed that I won't ask him to be a source and that he won't give me tips about the school system.

There is a persistent myth that I hold up letters with which I disagree. Not true. I don't have time to make such choices, because that would lead to complaints and time (that I don't have) spent on the phone.

If it passes the legal test and isn't book-length, we'll get it in. If you criticize me or The Herald-Mail, that letter goes to the head of the line.

If there's anything I've missed, write me and I'll try to answer your questions. Send them to Bob Maginnis, The Herald-Mail, P.O. Box 439, Hagerstown MD 21741. Thank you.

Bob Maginnis is

editorial page editor of

The Herald-Mail newspapers.

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