I don’t make any secret about the fact that this newspaper is unashamedly conservative and Christian.
Yes, I’m a Republican, although I hardly feel so closely aligned with the actual party anymore. And yes, I’m a Christian who talks about God in my paper, puts a Scripture on the front page every week and gives churches free want ads for their services. We also have a mission to support non-profits with free stories and lots of coverage.
So I expect some rebuttal when I put conservative leanings in the paper. I hardly think everyone agrees with all of our publications.
Nobody makes sure to consistently call me out if they disagree more than a man who I call a good friend at the Hyundai of Slidell dealership–owner Mike Stedem.
We are good friends and we actually have a lot of issues that we see the same on. I think Mike told me one time that he is fiscally conservative, although more to the left on other issues.
I stopped by to see him recently and he was waiting to call me down on something, which I honestly don’t mind at all. For that matter, I almost like the critical e-mails I get about things in the paper since folks enjoy reading them. I’m a big boy and don’t have any problem with someone who disagrees with something I wrote.
Mike ran into his son’s office and was shaking a printout of a New York Times article that came out May 4. It was shortly after Republicans passed the first portion of the new health care bill, and Democrats stood in the chambers of Congress singing the 1969 song by Steam:
“Na, na, na, na…..na, na, na, na…..hey, hey, hey….good bye!”
You know it. The song is chanted at ball games by teams about to win, teasing the losers.
When I heard that the Democrats sang that song in Congress it motivated me to write an editorial about the lack of decorum in the halls of the House of Representatives. Mike wanted me to know that the song has been sung many times before in Congress, for presidents leaving office and more.
“Look, look!” he said. “You wrote about the Dems singing that song, but it’s been done a lot more times before by both sides.”
I laughed and told him that it didn’t matter to me—I still thought it was childish and therefore, I used it in an editorial. But yes, it happened to make print when the Dems did it.
Mike and I have a great friendship and like other people I know who I don’t align with politically, it’s not a problem. There are actually a few things that are good about getting older—not many, mind you—but a few. And one of them is that you learn a little more patience of others, how to show grace to someone who you think is out of line and maybe you can accept the fact that everyone doesn’t believe exactly like you do. We can still be friends.
So Mike I’ll give you one mark on the chalk board—you are right, the song has been sung before, but I still think it’s childish no matter what side of the isle you’re on.
The entire discussion reminded me about something that I do like to keep in my mind—I own the paper. Yup, that still is amazing—going on nine years since my family agreed to start The Slidell Independent, then followed it up with Tammany West. Never imagined someone with little money could somehow own the local paper, but God does work in amazing ways—and that’s where the credit goes.
Even though the vast number of media outlets in this land are unashamedly liberal, and have much more power than the small number of conservative newspapers or other media outlets, guess what? I get my chance in my little corner of the world to say what I want in the paper and stand up for conservative and Christian values as much as I want.
I actually consider it my calling with the newspapers. Somebody has to stand up and say things like “I trust the Lord,” or “I am positively pro-life,” or “global warming is a crock.” Yes, I just said that. I don’t believe I’m going to change everyone’s minds. For that matter, I probably won’t change many people at all.
But for whatever reason, God gave a little guy like me the chance to stand up for Him and Christian values—part of which I consider conservative values—right here in St. Tammany Parish. I consider it a privilege to have been given the reigns of the local newspaper and I take it all very seriously.
So even though I’ll have folks like Mike give me a hard time once in a while—at least with Mike it’s all in good fun and as my friend—it’s just fine with me.
This newspaper will not back off its conservative and Christian stands as long as the good Lord allows me to be the one who does the typing on this computer keyboard.
Kevin Chiri can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.