Censoring Bob Valenzuela

Published in the Hollister Free Lance, November 21, 1997
Dear Editor:

Like others, I too will miss Bob Valenzuela's column. The first Free Lance we bought after moving to Hollister was a Friday edition, and when I saw Bob's column, I said to myself, "Who is this burned-out hippie?" But after reading his column, I found myself laughing. His column was always the first thing I read on Friday.

Bob has mentioned to me that he lost business because of his column, and I believe him. However, in my case, the exact opposite is true. I probably would have never visited his store (we have two video stores much closer), but after reading Bob's column, I had to meet this madman. Now my daughter regularly asks if we can go to Bob's Video, and whenever he's there, he always greets me with "Herr Mueller".

The one thing that surprised me was the reaction of James De La Cruz in the November 14 Free Lance. He accused the Free Lance of "injustice, discrimination, and censorship among minorities from freedom of speech". This is clearly ridiculous; I remember Bob writing that Mark Paxton was one of the few people he had ever met that truly believed in a free press. To hear Mr. De La Cruz cry censorship makes me wonder if he even spoke to Bob before writing his letter.

He then compounds his error by chastising the Free Lance "for taking away our freedom of speech". Excuse me? Even if the Free Lance killed Bob's column because of pressure, Mr. Valenzuela is still free to speak as he wishes. I bet the Free Lance would print letters from Bob, just like it published Mr. De La Cruz's letter condemning it. So how can he claim anyone's freedom of speech has been lost?

As someone who has twice sought appointment to the City Council, I would expect more logical thought from Mr. De La Cruz. Anyone seeking such a position of responsibility had better not tell everyone that the sky is falling without some basis in logic.

UPDATE: Bob Valenzuela continued his column in the local weekly, The Pinnacle. In 2002, he moved out of Hollister down to Hollywood. Some of our local flavor is now gone.

Want to comment on this? E-mail me at stevem@svpocketpc.com.