We’ve had several calls recently from people complaining about not receiving their newspapers. The papers were delivered to the local post office correctly and they left the local post office in a timely manner, but they got sidetracked somewhere between here and the Twin Cities area where the newspapers are sorted to come back to local residents for delivery. This has become more of a problem since the closing of the Rochester postal center a few years ago.

The calls are a reminder that our office gets more complaints about delivery problems than journalistic criticisms. Yes, we have inaccuracies that we are more than willing to correct in the next issue, but rarely if ever do we get calls complaining about the tone of our news or that we have a hidden agenda.

Still, that doesn’t mean we can ignore what is happening nationally where high level officials claim the press is the “enemy of the people” and the president calls anything contrary to his view of reality as “fake news.”

Those adversarial opinions are being heard by others, leading to a concerning development at Walmart, which was recently selling a T-shirt on its website that recommended lynching journalists. The T-shirt had a simple message: “Rope. Tree. Journalist. SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED.”

The T-shirt, which was being sold by a third party retailer on Walmart’s website, was pulled after a complaint, but not before a photo of it went viral. The retailer offered the shirt for $22.95 with the promise that it would arrive before Christmas Eve.

The complaint from the Radio Television Digital News Association pointed out that nearly three dozen journalists have been physically assaulted so far this year across the country merely for performing their constitutionally-guaranteed duty to seek and report the truth. At least 48 journalists have been killed in other countries.

"It is our belief that at the least, T-Shirts or any other items bearing such words simply inflame the passions of those who either don't like, or don't understand, the news media,” stated the complaint. “At worst, they openly encourage violence targeting journalists. We believe they are particularly inflammatory within the context of today's vitriolic political and ideological environment."

It’s true journalists make mistakes, but there is an honored tradition that guides journalists in their daily work. To assume all journalists have sinister motives and to threaten violence against them, even if it might be labeled tongue in cheek, is wrong.

Project Veritas uncovered the scruples of the press, rather than its faults recently when it tried to trick the Washington Post into reporting a story from a source using a fake identity who told reporters at the newspaper she had been impregnated as a teen by Roy Moore, who is running for the Senate in Alabama. The organization, which targets the mainstream media, was hoping to get evidence on Post reporters about their opinions on the Moore campaign.

Instead, the Post checked her claims, found many holes and eventually uncovered her ties to the organization trying to deceive the newspaper.

It isn’t just journalism that is under attack these days. With attacks from the country’s highest official and a belief by some people that they know more than others who have a wealth of experience in a field, many of our country’s institutions are on the defense — and worrying about the safety of their members.

President Trump, who has criticized judges who don’t rule in his favor, recently took issue with a jury that found an undocumented immigrant not guilty in the July 2015 death of Kate Steinle. He called it a “disgraceful verdict” and a “complete travesty of justice” in tweets.

Many others across the country piled on through social media, criticizing our country’s justice system.

However, the court case was more complex. Garcia Zarate testified the shot that killed Steinle was an accident and evidence showed the bullet had ricocheted before striking her. The jury deliberated for six days before making a decision.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t justification for criticism of the system. Zarate had multiple felony convictions and had been set free from jail only months before the shooting, in defiance of requests by federal immigration authorities who had asked that he be held longer so he could be deported again.

The proper targets for complaints are the sanctuary city policy of San Francisco and the lack of border security that allows deported immigrants to cross again and again. Attacking a jury of everyday citizens for a decision after sitting through days of testimony only brings down the entire judicial system.

This isn’t the first time the president’s disdain for the judicial system has surfaced. Although the White House isn’t calling judges the enemy of the people, tweets from the president called a respected federal judge who ruled against his immigration ban a “so-called judge” and another decision by a federal judge “ridiculous.”

The proposed ban may have merits, but a judge’s decision has many components, many of them built upon our judicial tradition that has progressed over time. A judge isn’t ruling on the virtue of a proposal, just its legal merits.

To attack a judge after rendering a decision is, as the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee said, not just embarrassing, but “dangerous.”

Even science is under attack these days.

Although Trump’s views on climate change are a little more complex than the somewhat inaccurate view that he claims it’s a hoax invented by the Chinese, his actions have focused more on policy than personal attacks. His administration has rolled back many environmental rules and the United States is no longer involved in the Paris climate agreement. Those are issues that can be debated without degrading the entire scientific process.

However, even though individual scientists don’t have to worry about T-shirts recommending lynching, the attacks on science are prolific, creating disturbing trends, and not just in the politicized realm of climate science.

For example, flat-earth groups have popped up in cities around the country and last month about 800 people attended the first-ever Flat Earth International Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. They feel images of Earth from space and video footage of the moon are filmed on a movie set and laws of science are made up.

Although they may seem harmless, they are waging war on accepted science — a body of knowledge about our planet that has been building for centuries.

Just as the press and the legal system aren’t perfect by any means, scientific theories are revised over time. However, the majority of scientists rigorously test hypotheses in accord with a tradition that has been fostered by other experienced people over a period of time. Some people may feel they know more about science than anyone else, but their opinions aren’t equal to those of professionals who have devoted their lives to scientific inquiry

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has a solution for some scientific skeptics. He has suggested that flat-earthers be rocketed into space and allowed to return only after admitting they’re wrong.

If only the solution were so simple for the other know-it-alls who try to disparage the traditions of our country’s great institutions.