The North Star for Newspapers

The following statement was discovered in February 2005 in the files of R.C. Hoiles, founder of what is now Freedom Communications Inc., parent of The Orange County Register. It was written – in the early to mid-1960s, we believe – in response to requests from several Freedom publishers. They wanted Mr. Hoiles, co-publisher of the Register at the time, to state clearly the policies that they should follow on the editorial pages of other Freedom papers.

I have been asked to put in written form the editorial policies we believe should be followed in order to make the newspapers controlled by Freedom Newspapers Inc. better serve the community, the state and the nation. So unless someone can show us wherein the following policies violate principles that will promote more and better jobs, and at the same time more good will among mankind, the following is an outline of our beliefs.

Since no one can determine right from wrong or reason without some starting point from which to reason, it is necessary to set down a starting point. That starting point is that no individual, no group has a right to initiate force or use coercion against another individual or group to get part of his life energy. It seems to us that this principle is embodied in the commandments "Thou shalt not murder," "Thou shalt not steal" and "Thou shalt not covet anything that belongs to a fellow countryman," and it is also included in the Golden Rule and the Declaration of Independence. This is the guide that we think should be used in determining the editorial policies of our newspapers.

This policy makes us take a stand against any actions of any individual, or group or government, that initiates force. This principle requires the newspaper to be very careful in selecting the columnists and editorials it runs.

It should also be a guide as to the letters to the editor that we run. We do not believe that any letter to the editor that reflects on the honesty or character of an individual should be run without the writer giving concrete evidence substantiating his accusation. This is true because it is just as immoral to repeat a falsehood as it is to originate it. Letters to the editor that do not reflect on any individual, even if they might add to confusion, might be run once or twice from the same individual, [but], then, if he will not answer questions about what he is advocating or opposing, it seems unfair to our readers to continue to give him space.

The same policy of course should be followed in news reporting. Anytime the newspaper is in error in making any report, it should be glad to make a correction.

Editors and reporters gain quite a lot of understanding by permitting their suggestions or ideas or statements to be questioned, and if they cannot defend them without contradicting themselves or facing a dilemma, they are evidently in error. This is so because one truth or principle is always in agreement with another truth or principle. It seems to be the best way known of discerning fact from error.

We know of no other newspaper in the United States that use as a guide the theory that no man or group of men should initiate force. This makes us oppose any discriminatory legislation – local, county, state or federal. It makes us take the stand that no government or no subdivision of the government has a moral right to do anything that each and every individual does not have a right to do. If we are consistent with this principle we have to be against tax-supported schools, minimum wages, Social Security, any law that interferes with people making voluntary contracts and any law that interferes with an unhampered market.

It would seem that this also makes us take a stand against any form of taxation, because taxation is a form of initiating force. If one believes in taxation or initiating force, it would seem that he must discard the commandments against stealing and coveting, the Golden Rule and the Declaration of Independence, which says "governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed." Since no man can give another man's consent, then, if we believe in this principle, governments should be supported on a voluntary basis. If a man does not consent to voluntarily paying, he should not be compelled to pay. The reason is that the minute you compel him, you are violating moral principles and cannot tell the difference between that form of government and the compulsion of communism other than degree.

Benjamin Franklin said that he did not want to put anything in the paper that he published that was not entertaining or useful. If any person can point out how the above policies would not be useful and helpful, we, of course, would be glad to change our policies. However, until such time as the above is shown to be inconsistent or even not practical in the long run, we believe it is to the best interest to all to attempt to follow these policies.

While, of course, we never expect to have a perfect government – that is, a government with the consent of the governed – we want to use these ideals as guides to the direction we want to go. Just as if we were lost in the desert at night we would use the North Star as a guide, although we never would expect to get to the North Star.

- R. C. Hoiles

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