Schnathorst: Opinion writing: Not what everyone wants to hear


Leah Stasieluk/Iowa State Daily

Columnist Danny Schnathorst argues that opinion column writing is for people who are willing to defend their beliefs. He believes columnists should strive to inspire discussion and debate, and not be afraid to write about controversial or original topics.

Danny Schnathorst

Once upon a time there was a princess named Isabella. This princess lived in a castle perched on top of the world. Every year on her birthday, guests would travel from all across the world to see the royal princess. Only the guests with the best gifts were allowed to enter. Those with diamonds were allowed in; guests who brought her socks and underwear were tossed to the side and banished from the castle forever.

Each year, with every birthday, her collection grew. She had all kinds of nice things from diamonds and rubies to 100-inch flat screens and her own bowling alley, but what she lacked was a best friend. On her 17th birthday, her wishes came true. Her Aunt Julie brought her the best present she could ever ask for. What was this gift, you ask? A unicorn.

This wasn’t any regular unicorn, however. This was a majestic white unicorn with wings that stretched farther than the eye can see. Isabella completely ignored all of the other guests and went straight up to the unicorn. The name came to her instantly. “Angelina,” she thought out loud. “Angelina, the angelic one.”

Angelina and Isabella rode together for hours upon end. Angelina would tuck her in at night, and Isabella would wake up in the morning and brush Angelina’s mane. They were instantly best friends, and Isabella knew they would be forever.

The day has arrived: Isabella’s 18th birthday. Although she had everything she could ever wish for, she was lacking something: freedom. Today was the day that she would leave for good. The princess stared down at the thousands of people waiting in line to enter the castle to celebrate this milestone birthday. She looked back at Angelina and nodded. They both knew that it was time.

Angelina and Isabella took the stairs up to the helicopter pad and she climbed upon her. Looking back at everything she was leaving behind, she clicked her heels and off they went, disappearing into the sunset, living happily ever after.

Great story, wasn’t it?

If you haven’t figured out that this was a fluff story by now, you’re probably a first-time reader. For those of you who don’t know, I am an opinion columnist with a little too much on my mind.

One thing I take pride in is my ability to speak my mind. I touch subjects most writers in the journalism industry wouldn’t dare mutter a word about. Not only do I do that, but no matter what happens, I stick by my beliefs. I stand up for what I believe in.

The opinion page is something you can’t write for if you have thin skin. I knew that when I came to the Daily. The purpose of my writing is to spark controversy. After all, if a column on the opinion page doesn’t make you angry, either you agree with the writer or they haven’t done their job correctly. When people get angry at my writing, that’s how I know I am doing my job correctly. People are often worried at some of the feedback that I receive for some of my opinions. However, I don’t look at it that way.

I look at it as a learning opportunity. If I write a piece that doesn’t anger a handful of people, I know then that my writing is becoming boring. My columns are not to try to persuade you to think one way or another, my columns are written to spark discussion with members who oppose my opinion. If I wrote about what everyone wants to hear, I wouldn’t be an opinion columnist. I would be a news reporter.

All across the globe, if you were to search for opinion columns, you would find mostly the same type of writing: marijuana legalization, how technology is affecting today’s generation and a myriad of other overdone topics.

What’s the point? If you want to read all about those topics, simply Google “opinion columns” and I’m sure the top five hits will be on a topic along those lines.

I speak my opinion about things that I believe, which is precisely why I am an opinion columnist. Of course, my opinions are controversial. A friend once told me that in order to separate yourself from the others, print the truth. Don’t worry about what others think.

Writing whether you believe in the legalization of marijuana simply takes a computer and hands. Having the spine to stand up against nearly an entire society takes guts and heart.