Allowing a platform for discussion

When news broke that Ted Nugent would be making a tour stop in Roanoke in April, I had an idea. I wondered if he might find time to slip out for a quick spring turkey hunt at a spot I have just 15 minutes from the venue where he would be playing a triple header with Styx and REO Speedwagon.
I knew it was a long shot, but the next show was a few days after the Roanoke gig, so it seemed he might have a little time to kill.
I took to the computer and wrote a short post for my blog, a post that carried the headline: “Should I invite Ted Nugent for a turkey hunt?”
It was a rhetorical question.
I had already asked the music writer here at The Roanoke Times if he could get the ball rolling. I just wanted to hear what the readers thought.
Create a dialog, you know?
I got a dialog, in the form of dozens upon dozens of comments.
People love Ted Nugent.
And people hate Ted Nugent.
It was exactly what I expected.
What was most pleasing was the tone of the discussion.
As much as these folks might have disagreed, they were generally polite and cordial.
They made their points and their arguments, then stood by and let others make theirs.
While what we see on TV and in Washington, D.C., might belie this fact, cordial debate is still possible.
The Nugent discussion — he politely declined my invitation, by the way, saying he doesn’t hunt while on tour — pretty well sums up my philosophy toward any approach to important, controversial topics.
A one-sided discussion might make some of the people involved feel empowered, but it is like a running a one-person race: It is not productive or satisfying.
Rather, actual progress is possible only when both — or all — sides are involved. Without conflict there can be no resolution.
I am proud that this is a philosophy shared by the institution that is OWAA.
Our membership, among individuals and supporters, is richly diverse.
We have plenty in common, particularly our love of the outdoors.
But we have differences.
On the water some of us adhere to a strict catch-and-release ethic, while others are more than happy to keep a few for the pan.
Some of us are strong advocates of designated wilderness, while others believe that public lands should be made more accessible to the general public.
Many of us are staunch Second Amendment supporters who bristle at the thought of any further erosion of gun rights. Yet some of our members would be willing to accept additional gun and accessory ownership restrictions in the hopes that they could reduce gun-related violence.
But OWAA, as an entity, takes an advocacy position on only one topic: the First Amendment.
Beyond OWAA’s support for the freedom of speech and freedom of the press, it isn’t the organization’s role to try to take an institutional position or shape how our members think.
OWAA’s mission is to serve its membership, and part of that service is to provide our members with access to a wide variety of resources, including individuals and groups, to best educate themselves on topics.
When you get a moment, pull out your most recent directory and scan through the list of individual members and supporters. The listings represent an amazing depth of knowledge on an amazing variety of important, relevant topics.
By providing a vehicle for those members to interact, OWAA helps ensure that when our members choose to take a position, they are better able to support that position with actual facts, information and experience, not just hollow, weak rhetoric. ◊

— OWAA President Mark Taylor,

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