This week marked the 127th anniversary of the birth of the founder of Freedom Communications, Raymond Cyrus Hoiles.
Freedom is the parent company of 70 daily and weekly newspapers across the nation, including the Quay County Sun and eight television stations. It is the nation’s 13th largest newspaper and broadcast company. The Irvine, California-based company is still majority owned by members of the Hoiles family.
The company pays tribute to its founder each Nov. 24 because Hoiles not only founded a lasting and thriving business, but because he left an unmistakable imprint on his company and the Freedom communities served.
Hoiles came at the world with an idea, one that even today is our company’s highest purpose: to advance human liberty. This was not some flag-waving, glossy image of liberty, but one that explored citizens’ roles in relationship to each other, and to the government. And the rights and responsibilities of each.
He believed that government isn’t the first-reach answer to all our problems. That men and women of goodwill can work things out among themselves. That individual property rights almost always trump what government might have in mind for your property. That you have the first call on the product of your labor. That principles should be followed with consistency over time.
He challenged institutions that were taken for granted then, and are taken for granted now. He challenged powers from the state that we have come to expect as part of everyday life. And he welcomed others to question and challenge his views.
His beliefs are still expressed and shared on Freedom’s editorial pages, a distinguishing characteristic among newspapers today, some of which purposely steer clear of ideology, some that vote on their positions on issues and others that seek to merely “reflect the views of the community.”
Hoiles rooted his conviction that individual freedom is the most desirable condition for human beings in the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount and the Declaration of Independence. To these timeless moral and political documents can be added innumerable works by philosophers, economists, historians and students of the human condition.
Enthusiasm for human freedom begins with accepting the natural rights and essential dignity of each and every human being. If every person possesses the same human dignity, he or she has the right to make — and take responsibility for — decisions about his or her own life and legitimately acquired property.
Making choices includes living with the consequences of those choices, good or bad, and not forcing others to bail us out of our mistakes — although they are free to do so of their own accord.
The corollary is that none of us has the right to force another human being to do something he or she does not want to do. We have the right to defend ourselves against force initiated by others, but not to initiate force against them.
We believe human freedom is rooted in timeless morality. It is pleasing to note, however, that to the extent human societies choose at least some aspects of freedom, they tend to prosper, economically, culturally and spiritually, and to offer a wide array of choices to those who live in them.
The more human beings understand the value of freedom the more progress toward the good life is possible.
In 1955, the Santa Ana (Calif.) Register wrote a front-page statement about its editorial policy, and spoke of opposition to socialism. In the early years of the 21st century, however, it is possible to view the 20th century as one in which socialism in many guises was tried and found wanting, most dramatically in the collapse of the thoroughly repressive version known as communism. Those societies that preserved or expanded freedom did better at providing a rich life to their inhabitants than those that resisted it.
Nonetheless the desire of human beings to rule others persists, though it assumes a variety of forms.
Thus the task of advancing human liberty is unlikely ever to be completed. We hope to carry on Hoiles’ mission for another 127 years, at least.