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Editorial 606

Missy Layfield - Editor

Freedom of the Press

Been thinking about the concept of freedom this week after the murder of our Libyan ambassador and three others by people angry over an obscure video clip that was insulting to the Prophet Muhammad.

How do you explain our American liberty to say whatever you want and make any video you want to people who live in a tightly controlled society? To people who cannot conceive that any video or book or newspaper article can be created without the government’s consent and participation?

The American concept of freedom of expression is unheard of in many places around the globe.

It's easy to defend speech you agree with. It's a test of our resolve as a nation to defend speech you don't agree with.

What irony that a state department diplomat who most certainly would disagree with anything that insulted the beliefs or religion of another culture-was killed by someone who also disagreed with a video clip.

But as an American he would have defended the right of the maker of the video to be able to express his opinion in any way he wanted.

Three things that were encouraging in the coverage of this issue:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s comment, "We absolutely reject its content and messages. But there is no justification — none at all — for responding to this video with violence.”

And the Twitter exchange between representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood and American embassy public affairs staff last week as demonstrations roiled Cairo. Muslim Brotherhood staff sent messages to the American Embassy saying they were relieved that no diplomatic workers had been harmed in Cairo demonstrations. They hoped relations between the two countries could be maintained. The American staffers tweeted back, "Thanks. By the way, have you checked out your own Arabic feeds? I hope you know we read those too,” an apparent reference to the Brotherhood’s calls for more protests in Cairo.

Lastly it was heartening to hear about the Libyans who risked their own lives to try to save American lives.

Campaign Policy

As we close in on October, I want to remind our readers of the Sand Paper’s campaign policy. The full policy is available in our office or by email, but here are the basics:

We will allow candidates to announce that they are running and provide some information about themselves. For those who have not yet announced their candidacy in our paper, they will have the opportunity to do so next week.

To help voters get a fair look at each candidate, we are allowing each candidate to write two short Guest Opinions on any subject they wish. You will hear directly from the candidates in their own words. Those will run in October.

We encourage residents to write letters supporting their candidates-one per writer please. See our Submission Policy on this page for guidelines. Candidates and their families however are not allowed to use the Letters to the Editor page to campaign.

We will be looking at candidates for the following offices: Fort Myers Beach Fire Board, Fort Myers Beach Library Board, Lee Memorial Hospital Board, Lee County School Board, Lee County Sheriff and Lee County Board of Commissioners.

All of these positions serve the Beach and are of interest to Beach voters. We hope you take the time to read about the candidates and make a considered ballot decision.

Voter Guides

Speaking of elections, the November ballot has more choices on it than you might expect. There are judicial retention decisions and 11 Florida Constitutional Amendments that need careful consideration.

Where are you going to find information on these questions?

Stop in our office to pick up a Voter’s Guide. The League of Women Voters has printed two guides to help you sort out the issues. It also includes info on where to find more detailed background on the issues. The voter guide tells you what a yes or no vote will do on each amendment.

We have plenty of these guides, so feel free to pick up a handful for your friends, condo or breakfast group.

You’ll find the info online too at You can check your voter status at

As we approach this election, let’s not take any of our freedoms for granted.

Make sure you are ready to vote!

Missy Layfield