Editorial: Hoping for a spring thaw

“How’s that global warming thingie working out for you?” The frequency of that kind of quip soared as temperatures sank, bringing a shivering smile to climate-change skeptics around the county. That the oceans (covering almost three-quarters of earth’s surface) are in fact warmer, as well as other inconvenient truths, are dismissed as a conspiracy hatched by scientists and their left-wing co-conspirators.

For conspiracy theorists, often driven by a faith-not-fact-based ideology, simple common sense is the first casualty. While it only makes sense that climate change disrupts normal weather patterns, more complicated and thus sinister explanations seem easier to believe.

So it is that in recent months the Rappahannock News has apparently come to be seen by a few residents as part of a so-called “Inn crowd conspiracy,” hatched when the newspaper hosted a town forum to learn more about a Big Washington developer’s plans for our county seat. The forum, it was said, did not allow for a proper exchange of views — indeed was organized in such a way as to be stacked against the plans’ skeptics.

Soon the very existence of the Town of Washington as a separate jurisdiction was being called into question. Yes, objective observers would probably agree, it’s silly for no more than 30 active voters to have their very own governmental entity. Yet it is also silly (because impractical) to try to undo what is de facto a legally incorporated town.

And so, except for occasional comments in this space, the Rappahannock News has remained largely silent on this issue. Because of this silence — and lack of follow-up news coverage about what happened to the developer’s plans, what’s really going on with the town post office and the so-called “town square,” etc. – is the newspaper simply an elitist co-conspirator with the Little Washington “Inn crowd?”

One of the town’s most vocal critics has been Ben “Cooter” Jones. He also has been harshly critical of the newspaper’s coverage (or noncoverage) of the town, the county seat shared by all Rappahannock residents. In the spirit of ensuring that all sides of the county’s issues are given freedom of expression in these pages, we welcome Ben back in his role as “Up in the Hollow” columnist and thoughtful provocateur.

With Ben’s holding our feet to the fire, a spring thaw should be here soon.

Walter Nicklin