Living with the outcome

Posted: Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Limiting the number of times any individual can have a letter to the editor published is a tough decision. On the one hand sits freedom of speech and balanced reporting; on the other sits abuse of both. The Empire should certainly continue to provide us all with a forum to express our views and opinions. The Letters to the Editor page should not, however, become the platform for a relative few individuals (left and right) to repeatedly espouse opinions that have become tired and worn out, despite occasional efforts to use not-so-clever anecdotes and innuendoes.

Lacking a comedy club in Juneau, I have to admit that the back-and-forth "nanny nanny boo boos" can sometimes be entertaining, but I do eventually become bored with the same dribble coming from the same dozen or so residents who have chosen to use their limited (or maybe not) free time to write letters far more often than most of the rest of us. To do it right, an acceptable letter takes a fair amount of time to think about, write, proofread, and send in. As a matter of fact, I spent more than a couple hours on this letter (at the expense of listening to my new Bob Marley CD tonight). Maybe more of us should do that more often.

Is limiting the number of salvos the best defense against the letter barrage? It will certainly be effective, and I am leaning toward "yes" but honestly unsure. I am sure, though, that most regular readers recognize the names associated with this barrage. So, here is one solution: Look at the author's name first, not the letter's title or content. If it is from one of the letter mongers, don't waste your time reading it. You should already have a good idea what it's going to say.

Unfortunately, one-time visitors to Juneau who happen to read the Empire don't have that luxury. I imagine a few have gone home feeling a little unwelcome, thanks to the shots fired by a few persistent word slingers who take advantage of the Empire's efforts to provide fair and balanced access to the editorial page. Don't get me wrong, I would love to know what some of the other good citizens of Juneau have to say about important issues that impact all of us and hope more of them can find the time to put it into writing. In the meantime, I reluctantly vote: Once or twice a month is enough. I agree with your decision to poll your readers on this issue and can certainly live with the outcome.

Chris DeWitt


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