Frequent readers of this page will be surprised to hear this, but not everything is tied to politics.

Sometimes, the simplest, most straightforward explanations apply — and not the myriad wild conspiracy theories so popular these days on the internet and in the online comments for this page. As well, it is possible for those who identify from opposite sides of the political spectrum to enjoy a moment together outside the political arena, just as it is possible for those cut from the same political cloth to disagree on matters entirely unrelated to their party affiliation.

We are reminded of this following the heat Ellen DeGeneres recently took after being shown watching the Dallas Cowboys game last week while sitting next to former President George W. Bush. How could a gay woman and national advocate for liberal causes fraternize with a man who opposed gay marriage and led the ill-conceived invasion of Iraq? As DeGeneres explained, “I’m friends with George Bush. In fact, I’m friends with a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs that I have.”

Such a confession is mind-blowing, isn’t it? As DeGeneres further explained, “But just because I don’t agree with someone on everything doesn’t mean I’m not going to be friends with them. When I say be kind to one another, I don’t mean only the people that think the same way that you do. I mean be kind to everyone.”

It is possible to agreeably disagree, just as it is feasible to engineer a pursuit in which politics play no role whatsoever.

Take for instance this newspaper’s ongoing tug of war with the Denton County Sheriff’s Office over the identity of two deputies who shot and killed two men in separate incidents over six months. As part of our coverage of the incidents, as well as in an editorial on this page, the newspaper has quoted one of the state’s preeminent experts on the Texas Public Information Act saying, “I’ve seen police [agencies] just defy the law and withhold an officer’s name — and there is no legal excuse for doing it.”

The law says the information should be public, so the newspaper is pursuing the information in order to protect the integrity of the law. Apart from keeping Denton County informed and empowered, one of our biggest responsibilities as a community newspaper is to protect the public’s access to information concerning the operation and function of public agencies such as the Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Tracy Murphree, however, sees it differently.

Following a half-dozen or so stories from the Record-Chronicle concerning the two shootings and the Sheriff’s Office’s insistence that the deputies’ identities remain secret, Murphree on Oct. 3 posted a lengthy response to his personal Facebook page. In his post, the sheriff insists that the cases in question will not be investigated within the pages of the newspaper and that he has the “utmost respect and admiration for the men and women” who work for him.

Understandable. Again, it’s possible to agreeably disagree.

But then he makes this baseless claim, its intent solely to divide our community: “The DRC is mad because I won’t bend to their beck and call (that’s the correct way to spell beck and call I looked it up) and I have a hunch my conservative views play a part.”


Does Murphree, or anyone else for that matter, truly believe that were a Democrat wearing the sheriff’s badge, the newspaper would be unconcerned with the Sheriff’s Office flouting the Public Information Act? Is he really suggesting that we would look the other way and allow public information to be shielded from view if instead of being a professed conservative, Murphree was a vocal proponent of liberal or progressive ideologies?

No, that would be ridiculous. Not everything is tied to politics, and sometimes the simplest explanation — that the law says the information should be public, so it should be public — applies.

It’s a mind-blowing revelation for an Opinion page more accustomed to political mudslinging but a revelation we nonetheless hope is embraced — much like an outspoken talk show host hugging a former president to celebrate a touchdown.

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