The truth does not always set us free

Welcome to 2006 which, linguistic experts tell me, should be pronounced “twenty oh-six.”

We start a new year here at Capitol Hill Blue after another year of fantastic growth, the retained loyalty of many old readers and the company is many new ones.

Yet 2005, like most years of CHB’s existence since going online on October 1, 1994, saw more than its share of controversy and turmoil. We’ve come to expect that. Hell, we thrive on it.

We often find ourselves in the middle of a firestorm. We subscribe to legendary journalist Finley Peter Dunne’s belief that it is the role of a journalist to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”  I’ve been doing that since age 11 when I sold my first story and pictures to The Farmville Herald in racially-torn Prince Edward County, Virginia, and got the crap beat out of me by my classmates because I portrayed them – correctly – as a bunch of young bigots.

Actually, I learned my first lesson about telling the truth when those around me preferred fantasy five years earlier as a first grader in Floyd, Virginia. My mother and I lived in an apartment over a furniture store and I asked her how Santa Claus could leave presents since we didn’t have a chimney or fireplace. She used the question to explain the truth about Santa Claus.

So I went to class the next day and told my classmates the truth about  the non-existent St. Nick. Several started crying and I found myself in the principal’s office facing three days’ detention. I learned the hard way that telling the truth can get you in trouble when that truth runs against popular perception.

In these divided times when partisanship replaces true allegiance to freedom and truth becomes a disposable commodity buried under the bullshit of political spin, those who seek and report the truth all too often face doubt, derision and anger.

It can, and does, hurt to see Capitol Hill Blue referred to by some as a “tin foil hat” site. My wife cringes when she sees her husband referred to by partisan bloggers or the keyboard commandos of bulletin boards as a “liar” or a “nutcase” or, as one often says, “a Kenny Rogers wannabe.”

But truth is not owned by any political party or partisan philosophy. It exists beyond the boundaries of perception, belief or bias. It cannot, and should not, be subject to limitations, censorship or government mandate.

I was 12 when friends told me the Ku Klux Klan didn’t operate in Prince Edward County so I crawled on my hands and knees to the top of a hill one night to photograph a Klan rally in the county. Some claimed I took the photo elsewhere but the paper believed it was genuine and ran it.

Today, 46 years later, I see the same doubt when we publish a story about a politician’s actions or words but, in the end, we are usually proven right.

True journalism is not a popularity contest. A true journalist does not belong to a political party or pursue a partisan point of view. A true journalist looks for the truth without caring where it leads or concern for who it affects.

Our goal here at Capitol Hill Blue has always been, and always will be, the pursuit of truth. We’re non-partisan and proud of it. We will approach 2006 with the same dogged determination to find and print the truth without bias, without partisan taint and without concern over who it might anger.

That’s our pledge to you, our readers, because without you, none of this would be worth the effort.