Editorial: Freedom of the Press

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    Toronto is back on the heat.

    Canada’s largest city was put back on the list of SARS affected places Monday after last month’s precautions failed to prevent dozens of new cases.

    News of the respiratory disease spreading closer to home is alarming but not as alarming as the thought that some of the 724 deaths worldwide and more than 8,100 people infected since the disease first surfaced in November might have been avoided.

    How?

    Four words: Freedom of the press.

    When the new disease started spreading through the southern China city, the government warned the press not to peep a word, banning all reporting on any flu-like epidemic.

    Those infected with the disease didn’t know it and continued traveling, taking the SARS virus with them on their trips and unknowingly spreading it to others.

    The moral of this story is that the freedom of the press that the American citizens enjoy is not just a perk, not just a news supplement to the nightly television watching rituals.

    Being able to “watchdog” the government and report on what is happening around the country and around the world saves lives. It prevents accidents. It brings home kidnapped children whose faces are flashed on television screens because American’s recognize their faces.

    Not only should the residents across America appreciate these freedoms, they should embrace them and make sure they are not threatened.

    Be mindful of the freedoms you enjoy. If you don’t know what you have, you can’t fight to protect it.

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