Some managers at Wal-Mart didn't appreciate a column Mark O'Brien wrote in June 2005 for the Pensacola News Journal about the downside of the cheap prices that Sam Walton's empire has brought to America...
Mr. Hart, however, said he and his stores couldn't tolerate a newspaper that would print the opinions of someone who was as mean and negative as Mark O'Brien. But, you know, Mark's not nearly as ornery as that left-wing rabble-rouser Molly Ivins, whose column the newspaper also publishes. At any rate, Mr. Hart said he wanted the newspaper to get its racks off his lots. But he also said that if I fired Mark, we could talk about continuing to sell the newspaper at his stores.
I might understand it if Wal-Mart said I ought to fire Mark because what he said wasn't accurate. But that isn't the case. Mark accurately reported that there are 10,000 children of Wal-Mart employees in a health-care program that is costing Georgia taxpayers nearly $10 million a year.
Shouldn't we talk about that?
When we stop listening to people on the other side of the fence, when we try to silence and even punish people for thinking differently than we do and raising facts and figures we don't like, well, we won't be red, white and blue anymore.
That's why Mark still has a job and you can't buy a Pensacola News Journal at Wal-Mart anymore.
Randy Hammer is executive editor of the Pensacola News Journal. E-mail him at RandyHammer@PensacolaNewsJournal.com.