Government, media should be more open

This week is known as “Sunshine Week,” and that obviously has nothing to do with the weather. Sunshine Week refers to an annual initiative aimed at promoting open government. There are gatherings and efforts going on around the country to shine a light on the importance of access to public information. Government, after all, belongs to the people. When this if forgotten, government fails.

An odd thing happens when some people enter government, whether as paid officials or the people’s representatives. Instead of always striving to be as open and honest as possible about government policies and decisions, these folks start to think of the government as “theirs.” And they try to shut out their bosses, namely citizens.

Why would they do this? Sometimes to avoid embarrassment. Sometimes to avoid difficult questions. Sometimes as a way to get their way. After all, uniformed citizens cannot really object to something that stays hidden from them. In every case, what is happening is inappropriate. In fact, it undermines our system of government. Officials who contribute to the problem deserve scrutiny, exposure and perhaps even dismissal from office.

We believe we would be remiss not to note something else happening these days that hurts the public’s right to know. It is a political effort, sometimes aided by major media, to silence dissent. The problem boils down to an attack on free speech, with political correctness imposed over any real dialogue. It also manifests itself in double standards, about who may tell a joke and who may not, with some topics turned into sacred cows. The level of hypersensitivity associated with these topics is off the charts, in thought-police territory. So, many in the media could do more to bring sunshine into our society, by re-reading the First Amendment.