Each year Freedom Communications Inc., owner of this newspaper, celebrates Founder’s Day, the birthday of Raymond Cyrus Hoiles (1878-1970). “R.C.,” as he was known, founded the media company in 1935 with the purchase of the then-Santa Ana Register, and his heirs still control it.
R.C. Hoiles worked tirelessly during his lifetime on behalf of human liberty, self-reliance and personal integrity. His passion for his principles, and the enduring legacy of both, sets Freedom Communications apart from its contemporaries.
The commitments outlined below — the first five of ten; the others will run in this space on Wednesday — are a guideline for what readers should expect from the editorial pages of our newspapers.
1. The editorial page should publish regularly the Freedom Communications credo of first principles based on these three pillars: the Ten Commandments, The Golden Rule and the Declaration of Independence.
From these principles R.C. Hoiles extracted his “single code of conduct,” believing that if the initiation of force is wrong for an individual, it is also wrong for a government. He believed that the only legitimate function of government is the protection of its citizens against fraud and force, and that all other government- run programs should be replaced by free enterprise and voluntary actions.
His beliefs drew criticism, but the same steadfast convictions also won him praise when he applied them to the unfair treatment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Nearly a lone voice among American journalists, R.C. publicly protested the internment, an act that would earn him commendation from some of his staunchest critics and eventual recognition by the Japanese-American Citizens League.
2. The editorial page should strive to take positions consistent with the principle that no person or institution has the right to initiate force against another without provocation — what R.C. called “defensive force.”
“I have faith that the Commandments and the Golden Rule will promote good will and peace to the degree they are obeyed,” R.C. wrote on the eve of his 75th birthday. This doesn’t imply pacifism or passivity; R.C. believed people and governments have the right to defend themselves against aggressors. But he cautioned that when people and governments become the aggressor, they violate sound moral principles and undermine civil society.
3. The editorial page’s mission is to encourage people to think about current issues, keeping human liberty central to any public policy debate.
R.C.’s whole life was aimed at freedom of the individual. While there is no shortage of media outlets that hold some value other than liberty, our position is that personal liberty and the responsibility to live with the consequences of our actions are the most important political and social values. And, that liberty best facilitates the realization of other important social values.
4. The editorial page’s purpose is not to exhort readers to political activism except to defend human freedom and personal property.
The editorial pages seek to persuade readers of the importance of individual
liberty and the ideals of libertarianism, but would leave to readers to decide when to exercise their passion and take up a cause. The editorial pages are quick, however, to point out excesses of government — spending, taxation, regulation, new bureaucracies — that we believe limit human freedom. We are also quick to defend individual civil liberties in the face of overweening law enforcement powers. Finally, we believe citizens have the first call on the product of their labor and ownership of their property; we readily question any proposed bonds or taxes or proposed use of eminent domain by cities to take someone’s land.
5. The editorial page does not endorse candidates for political office. Candidates’ future performance is simply not predictive, no matter their experience, track record or promises. What is said in a campaign often has little to do with actual decisions. And, by not endorsing candidates, we hope to discourage the illusion that salvation or substantial improvement in human life are to be sought through the political process.
More progress is made in the voluntary private sector — think of the technology industry — than in the public sector, which more often stands in the way of healthy innovation rather than facilitating it. Politicians are not the source of our freedom and future; our own vigilance and conscientious behavior are.
We do compare candidates’ past performance and positions with our values, to give readers a “freedom perspective” on the candidate. And, we do take positions on most initiatives — words and ideas whose consequences can be reasonably predicted.