Somewhere on this beautiful blue marble of a planet, a man or woman is being beaten, jailed or ostracized for sharing an opinion that doesn’t quite sync with society in general. We just don’t notice because we are free.

Somewhere on this beautiful blue marble of a planet, a man or woman is being beaten, jailed or ostracized for sharing an opinion that doesn’t quite sync with society in general. We just don’t notice because we are free.

 Thankfully, I notice.

 Read the newspapers, visit the internet or watch television to see the carnage. In some country a man is rounded up by police for correctly and very publically pointing out the corrupt politicians who ruin his quality of life. In other far away lands, women are flogged for declaring their desire to express their individualism through non-traditional and non-religious clothing. In other locales, pseudo-journalists are locked up on espionage charges for simply reporting what they see.

 Despite most of our world wallowing in the abyss of suppression, yours truly can scream virtually unedited thoughts in the forest and endure nothing more than a few letters of disagreement and some complaints to my editors. It’s a great gig.

 Remember the whole school annexation debate? At the time, many of you (including some co-workers) thought I was a big-mouthed fool. Others complained yours truly was a closet racist, and one courageous writer penned a pointed letter entitled “Andre Riley is always wrong.” The general consensus was I hated kids, hated Independence and loved to stir the pot for kicks. Heck, there are some people who told me they’d never read another word I wrote because of my commentary during that period.

 Still, that fate is far better than spending day after excruciating day in prison for going against the grain of public opinion. “Andre Riley is always wrong” still makes me chuckle.

 Then there was the thought I dumped on paper not too long ago regarding the media – the very institution on which I have built my young career. In case you forgot, I basically unleashed a mini-tantrum about news coverage in general and how I feel journalists of all types (sports, cable news, and internet) continue to lower ourselves – this includes me – to a status just above supermarket check-out tabloids.

 That column was dangerous, especially given my day job requires I get along with all media sources. In retrospect I would have kept that thought to myself. Ultimately it was harmless, like many of my more than 300 columns; despite the fact yours truly fielded a call from a journalist accusing me of taking a potshot at ALL journalists everywhere. If one questioning my motives and opinions on my fellow journos is the worst I endured, I can take that.

 Good or bad, right or always wrong, I’m so thankful that I can spend about 450 words or so weekly freely expressing just how I feel.

I can scream bloody murder about racial profiling or challenge the community regarding its support of the local food pantry and leave it to you to judge. No filters, no government censors and no regrets…just some ideas from one sane person to another.

 I’m thankful for the opportunity.