Editors Clash on the Issues
Bob Dole, Bill Clinton Debate
On the News Desk at The Hour
Depending on where you're coming from news reporters and editors often are considered either lunatics from the right wing fringe or part of the liberal East Coast media. The Hour exemplifies what's really true. The staffs of most newspapers have employees representing a wide variety of views.
Here, Hour editors Mary Zurolo and William F. Torpey offer opposing views on four issues.
Zurolo: State lawsuits against tobacco companies are frivolous. It is not the fault of the companies that people bought their products and became addicted to nicotine. All smokers make the choice to smoke and to continue doing so despite reports, and common sense, pointing to the fact that smoking is unhealthy. Such lawsuits are just one more indication of how America has become a culture made up of people who love to be victims rather than one in which people are willing to take responsibility for their own actions.
Torpey response: While it's true that we've become a litigious society, lawsuits are often the only way that aggrieved persons can achieve justice. Sure, if we can resolve issues without going to court, by all means let's do it. But we must allow those aggrieved to have their day in court.
Torpey: Democrats and Republicans, naturally, will never agree; but Democrats do not make character assassination part of their overall political strategy the way the Republican Party does. It's difficult to compromise when you're always being unjustly attacked.
Zurolo response: Republicans can't help pointing out the numerous transgressions of the Democrats because there are so many.
Zurulo: The legislature's recent decision to spend $53,000 upgrading lawmakers' nameplates in the Capitol parking lot (in Hartford) is just one more example of wasteful government spending. The fact that several lawmakers on the committee that authorized the spending didn't even know how much the final project would cost shows that the more money lawmakers collect the more likely they are to spend it irresponsibly. And that is why all budgets should have spending caps.
Torpey response: That's nice. But, lawmakers should be more concerned with traffic signs and highway markers. They're so poor throughout the state that a national emergency should be declared to insure that communities establish minimum safety requirements for wording and placement. In any case, spending caps are always a bad idea. They abrogate lawmakers' responsibility to do the job they were elected to do.
The U.S. Justice System
Torpey: Our jury system needs a lot of work. Aside from all the questions revolving around the rules of evidence, jury selection, and the discretion of judges that evolved over the years, a way must be found to establish public confidence in the system when a jury finds an accused person not guilty.
Zurolo response: Re-establishing public confidence in the jury system won't occur until an attempt is made to base law more on truth than technicalities. Stacking juries in favor of one side is a practice that needs to be reformed. Until then, Americans should feel thankful they can freely express their dissatisfaction with particular trials.
I wrote this column as a "My View" for The Hour newspaper of Norwalk, Conn., with a fellow editor, Mary Zurolo, on Feb. 1, 1997.