Editor’s Column: Last time I checked …

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In fourth grade I coveted a pair of white leather Nike sneakers with the red “swoosh.” They cost $40, which my parents insisted was a ridiculous price for a pair of children’s shoes. Desperate to “fit in,” I sent $2 in cash to my aunt in Louisville, Ky., and asked her to bet on the horses at Churchill Downs. By sheer luck, I picked the right horse and my $2 bet won me $40. I bought my own Nikes.
Those shoes didn’t improve that horrible fourth-grade year. There were five girls named Nicole in my class. My teacher resented me pointing out that she’d misspelled “pilot” on the chalkboard. I got my first “F” on a homework assignment after missing weeks of school to the flu. It was a traumatic year, despite my special shoes. My 10-year-old brain was too immature to realize those shoes didn’t represent more than a good marketing campaign by a giant corporation out to make a lot of money.
Nike has been in the news a lot this week. I don’t follow the NFL, I don’t care who wins the Super Bowl, and spending money on Broncos swag has never fit in my budget. That’s just me. If pro football is your chosen way to relax and spend your free time, that’s totally your prerogative. Your “thing” might be cross-stitch or video games or four-wheeling or, in the case of my oldest son, sword swallowing. It is still a free country, last time I checked. We should give each other the space to enjoy our “things” as long as they don’t hurt anyone else.
That said, I still think it’s weird that sports fans are torching their $150 Nikes to protest the right of a few overpaid football players (they’re all overpaid, in my opinion) who are protesting racial injustice.
Whether you think their protest methodology is acceptable or not, it is still their First Amendment right to protest peacefully, just like it’s the First Amendment right of KKK members to traipse about in their pointy hats and masks, and it’s the right of the LGBTQ community to hold rainbow-infused parades, and people can fly Confederate and Nazi flags in public if they wish.
If we take away the right to peacefully protest from one group because it offends our personal sensibilities, we put ourselves on a slippery slope to dismantling the First Amendment altogether. And if we dismantle the First, the Second will topple in short order.
On a side note, Nike’s online sales spiked 30 percent after they released their controversial ad. Apparently, controversy sells even better than sex. The more Nikes burn, the more Nike’s stockholders make. But, we’re still free to burn our shoes, because we still have the First Amendment in place, and for that we can be thankful, no matter what we’re protesting (or not).

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You may notice something strange in this week’s paper: a lot of green text. We haven’t been overrun by leprechauns. We’re attempting to provide a visual response to a nearly 20-year-old gripe from Rangely that the HT isn’t fair to them. Based on the actual numbers, Rangely gets more than its share of news coverage.
So I got a bit perturbed last week when I got a message from a random tourist telling me how a Rangely convenience store clerk badmouthed the newspaper’s perceived lack of Rangely info when she asked about the paper. Here’s hoping the green ink this week makes our Rangely coverage easier to identify.

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