"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

Memo to Oregonian re: Doonesbury

The Portland Oregonian was among the 50 or so newspapers around the country that last week declined to run the scheduled Doonesbury cartoons, which had to do with abortion and the proposed, in some places, transvaginal ultrasound procedure.

You’d think the strip would have little problem in the pro-pro-choice Portland area, and most of the letters to the editor printed on the subject were critical of the decision not to publish.

The editors might also want to take a little at a blog post today by Kevin Richert, editorial page editor of the Boise Idaho Statesman. The Statesman runs Doonebury on its editorial page, but it did run last week’s strip intact. It did that in a state that was just undergoing a massive local debate about a law on the ultrasound, in an area far more socially conservative than Portland. (The fact that was happening at the same time, Richert said, was one factor in deciding to run the strip.)

Here’s what else Richert wrote: “The reader response was startling. I expected complaints, even some cancellations. I didn’t field a single complaint (and we actually did have a subscription cancellation over our Sunday editorial on the ultrasound bill). Instead, we heard from readers who thanked us, sometimes effusively, for running the cartoons. Here’s an excerpt from one e-mail. “Once again, Trudeau makes us squirm and confront our society’s demons. And once again, The Statesman has the journalistic courage to let us, the readers, make our own decisions about reading it — or not.””

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