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If columnists stir up hornet's nests, they're only doing their job page 2

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Date published: 7/28/2002



Perhaps I should have said at the outset of the column that I bear no ill will toward Catholics in general. Some of my relatives and best friends are Catholics. The friend who was best man at my wedding is Catholic.

I do question, and I think it's part of my responsibility as a journalist to question, the teachings of any organization and its influence on what people do and how they live. There are things I find distressing about the Catholic church, such as its views toward women, and its unyielding stance on contraception.

I'm certainly not alone in that regard; there are plenty of people--including many Catholics--who are questioning various aspects of their church and its leadership.

Check my archive and you'll find columns about the wonderful church I belong to. The kindness and friendliness of its members is unsurpassed. Its dedication to its mission is proved month after month, year after year. Maybe you'll learn that I was president of my church's youth fellowship during high school, as well as chief acolyte. You'll find columns that I think express compassion as well as any you'll read.

But whatever I write, I try to make it clear where I'm coming from. I'm surprised at times when columns I thought might draw a substantial response register not a peep. That only reminds me to make my point more forth- rightly.

To have an opinion about something is not the same as being bigoted toward something, as some letter-writers would suggest. Let's not confuse and diminish the existence of real bigotry.

And I never said that only the children of large families are left in cars.

One of the most dangerous things about language is that it can be manipulated in an apparently logical fashion to produce any intended result. Politicians do it all the time. People constantly accuse the media of doing it. Even letter-to-the-editor writers do it to make a point.

There were conclusions reached and logic attributed to me that I never intended or considered.

But that's all part of the deal. If a columnist doesn't make people react, then why should he bother?

RICHARD AMRHINE is a writer and editor with The Free Lance-Star.

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