COMMENT: Mystery man is a U.S. Army vet who loves the First Amendment

  • Poirier brought his neatly organized notebook of documents about a troubling white-collar theft of Social Security benefits he says he suffered 13 years ago. He feels government officials were complicit. He has documents, including signed official letters from then-Congressman Bill Thomas, which he says are proof. [photo by Patric Hedlund]

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    Poirier brought his neatly organized notebook of documents about a troubling white-collar theft of Social Security benefits he says he suffered 13 years ago. He feels government officials were complicit. He has documents, including signed official letters from then-Congressman Bill Thomas, which he says are proof. [photo by Patric Hedlund]

  • George Poirier [photo by Patric Hedlund]

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    George Poirier [photo by Patric Hedlund]

By Patric Hedlund, Editor
I was a little shocked to receive letters and comments from readers telling of apprehension caused by an unusually large five-page ad taken in the October 4 issue of The Mountain Enterprise by Mountain Communies resident George Poirier.

“It is my opinion that publishing the ravings of the unstable (George Poirier) makes your newspaper look like an unintelligent extremist periodical,” wrote Grant Heller, for instance.

Sue Canaan (see below) claims we have breached the trust of the community.

I consulted my International Society of Weekly News Editors hotline. Within minutes I had notes from South Africa, England, Scotland, Australia, Canada and all sectors of the United States, speaking about the duty of the journalist to give voice to the voiceless.

I decided to ask Mr. Poirier a little more about himself. It turns out he is a Korean War-era veteran, 77 years old. He dismantled ordinance and drove heavy equipment in the army. While stationed in Puerto Rico he received a serious skull fracture that kept him in the hospital for six weeks.

After discharge from the service he held a responsible position in construction, supervising up to 20 workers at a time for over a decade. Then effects of the skull fracture caused a vision problem that affects depth perception.

Poirier moved to Frazier Park in May of 1998, living here over 15 years. He has worked with Meals on Wheels and Friends of Seniors. We met under a large oak tree at the Ridge Route Communities Museum as sparrows filled the air with song.

Poirier speaks calmly and with humor. He said his home here is a sanctuary. I asked him about people’s response to his five-page ad, which is a unique way to vent frustrations about lack of truthfulness by government officials.

“I live by the Ten Commandments, straight up and down,” he said, “I’m not a violent person. I printed the first amendment in the [ad]. I love the first amendment: ‘Congress shall make no law respecting establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech….’” he quoted spontaneously from memory, then added: “Ours is the only society in which the constitution starts with those words. Those are the most important 16 words for our way of life. I told your publisher, ‘If I lose my free speech rights, yours are next.’”

[Below is an example of community anger at Poirier's ads, followed by a hot link so you can see the ads for yourself.]

COMMUNITY INPUT: Shocked and Appalled

October 8, 2013
Dear Editor:

This is for the attention of your publisher, Gary Meyer.

As full-time residents of Pine Mountain for six years and retired law enforcement officers, my husband and I are shocked and appalled that The Mountain Enterprise has published a five- page, rambling, incoherent manifesto from an obviously mentally ill resident.

Not only have you alarmed and confused the community with this Ted Kaczynski-type manifesto, you have successfully alienated your customer base. I’m sure The Mountain Enterprise sold many issues of this edition, however, for all the wrong reasons. Everyone is talking about the article because they are frightened and concerned as to why it was published in the first place.

I hope that Mr. Poirier was not charged for placing this ad since he is clearly disturbed and taking advantage of the mentally ill is unethical and disgusting. The Mountain Enterprise should be ashamed. You owe everyone an apology. We have bought our last edition and you have lost our community support.

Sue Canaan
Pine Mountain

Publisher’s Reply:

Thank you for your note about your concerns. I agree with some of the sentiments you’ve expressed. When I first read Mr. Poirier’s paid advertising submission I was shocked and at times became angry because I did not understand what he was talking about.

I also wondered about the writer’s stability and sent the material to a couple of local social service and mental health professionals for input. I was told that while the writings were strange, in their opinions the writings did not seem to be posing or threatening a danger.

I had to ask myself about our advertising policy and why Mr. Poirier should not be afforded the same opportunity that others have to express themselves in an advertisement if he pays the same fee that others pay for the privilege.

We don’t allow profanity, defamation, threats or even personal rudeness toward another person in an advertisement. We often publish ads with religious themes that express opinions with which I’m certain many people disagree or don’t like to see.

I found myself unwilling, in Mr. Poirier’s case, to reject his submission merely because I don’t personally understand it.

I’m sorry you were offended by the publication of Mr. Poirier’s advertisement, but I can’t apologize for having published it because I believe the community has a right to know what its neighbors have to say, no matter how unusual that sometimes may be.

Gary Meyer, Publisher
The Mountain Enterprise

You can view George Poirier’s five pages of ads in this PDF file.

This is part of the October 18, 2013 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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