So you want to write a letter to the editor. . .

By sydney

I need to get soft (and not just in my stomach). It seems the older I get, the softer I become when it comes to behavior. I’d rather not yell, jump up and down like an angry three-year-old, point fingers, or swear at people (unless that’s actually their names). I think I know why too.

I’ve always been a little against the grain expected. I did things my way, even if it’s not the right way. Speaking of manners, the way to write political letters to the editor these days is to go against today’s societal norms. These days we’ve been brainwashed into believing that the only way to express our political views isn’t to brag about them, it’s to point fingers, call names and belittle those with different political views. It is in the advertisements broadcast that we hear and see. It is in the messages that we read on social networks. And, here at your community newspaper, we’re starting to get letters to the editor with that same “damn the other guy” style of writing.

Like many of you, I’m not a fan of this.

I know I know. I know there are still some history buffs who know and are going to ring my chimes and say, “But, Don. Even in the early years of this constitutionally limited Republic, politics was dirty and ugly. Newspapers used to publish articles defaming and possibly slandering people all the time. Stop being so sweet. Why are you cursing now, 240 years later? ”

(I’ll answer that question in a nutshell, but first…)

For those unfamiliar with the term “Constitutionally Limited Republic”, what I’m about to type might blow your mind. A lot of people think I’m a goofy, far-right neo-Nazi because I’ve already said that the United States really isn’t a real democracy (where nine cannibals can vote to eat a tenth). The United States is a constitutionally limited republic. It is not a “conservative” notion. On the contrary, it is a “political philosophy of limited government” where “the government has limited power”. And it is a “key concept in the history of liberalism”. The creation of the United States was a liberal idea. So if I believe that, what does that make me – liberal or conservative?

Alright, let’s get back on track.

Why do I crumble now, 240 years later, when it comes to publishing letters to the editor of our community newspaper? As Liz Barrett Browning once wrote, “Let me count the ways.”

1. Because we are a “community” newspaper. The community is made up of people. People are neighbors and I hope they are good neighbors. I would promote civility in our community. Does yelling or yelling at your neighbor really make someone feel good?

2. If it’s really popular on social media, it’s probably a good idea not to follow this example.

3. Letters attacking others often lead to community newspapers being sued for libel – most libel suits against newspapers do not stem from the articles they publish, but rather from letters to the editor written by someone another and published without prior verification of said letters. I know the lawyers are all lovely, cuddly people, but I’d rather not have to give them extra money to defend a libel suit.

4. Finally, and most importantly, I pass out, because I can. If you don’t like it, tough. Go cry about the social injustices of a Neanderthal philosopher Donald Rush on social media if that makes you feel better. I still won’t publish your letter.

We will publish your letter if it complies with our “Letter Policy” which we regularly apply. In these politically charged times when everyone is so passionate, it can be difficult. So I’m going to make it easy for you. In your political letters, with good reason, write why you are for something or someone, rather than demolishing the opinion or the opposing candidate. It is better to use researched information rather than pablum copied from a partisan source. Easy to squeeze, no!

Include your name, address and daytime phone number. We will not publish your contact details, but we do publish letters from locals on local issues. If a letter is from out of town or out of state and isn’t really about something local, I feel no obligation to post it. We use the phone number to verify that you are the author of the letter and not someone impersonating you (which is easily done online).

So this is it. A little hard love from old softy. Be kind in your letters to the editor. Happy voting everyone!

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