We cancelled our subscription a few years ago because of the consistent, disturbing nature of some of the letters to the editor. The tone was vitriolic and usually espoused strong opinion in place of accurate, proven facts and data – week after week. When we brought our concern to the editor, we were asked if we wanted to engage the authors of such letters in an exchange of pro and con; we declined. However, one reader did engage, and time after time offered accurate, proven facts and data that buried the diatribes. Unfortunately, it became a senseless back and forth.
It looks like our paper is returning to old habits. This is not a First Amendment issue. I went to Vietnam twice for the specific purpose of preserving that right. This is about accepting and publishing anything, even severe opinions that include calling political parties barbaric, elections as rigged, other citizens as anti-American and Communists, implying a socialist revolution, personally criticizing candidates by name, etc.
Our paper’s editorial policy states that letters may be edited for length, clarity, accuracy and grammar. I believe more consideration should be given to publishing constructive information that enables critical thinking and fair-mindedness. At least consideration should be given to not successively publishing letters with an extraordinarily divisive and angry tone, ones that tell the reader that God will overlook you if you vote for certain candidates, etc. I do not believe that is to anyone’s benefit. There are enough challenges for us to overcome as a whole.