Archive for Wednesday, August 7, 2002

About that letter

August 7, 2002

We've had plenty of interesting letters to the editor over the years, but last week's dissertation by Kristine Furlought brought more comment than any letter I can recall.

Furlought wrote a two-page letter taking columnist Don Coldsmith to task for his views on the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. She had put in a lot of work on the letter, which was very long.

In the past, I've been able to talk her out of a page or a half page of her letters. That wasn't going to work this time. There wasn't any logical place to cut. So I told her I would run it, with the P.S. that she had included directing me not to change her spellings, but in the future there would no more two-page letters. We also agreed to change two words she had used which didn't belong in a family newspaper.

The simple truth is I've never believed in length limits for letters. If it takes two pages to say, I'm willing to give the space. I always suggest, however, that the letter should be trimmed and I'll make suggestions where to cut it. But sometimes that falls on deaf ears and I tell the long-letter writers that a lot of people simply won't read it. There was certainly some of that with Furlought's letter.

However, there were plenty of people who did read it. It was a well-discussed topic wherever I went last week. It was also hashed out on Speak Out, the Signal's online community forum. But, despite many people saying they would, there were no letters to the editor this week in response. Maybe next week.

One topic of discussion on Speak Out was whether I should have allowed the long letter or not. The online verdict was "don't ever stop running those letters." Our readers enjoy the entertainment, if nothing else, that many of our letter writers bring to the table. I know I sure enjoy them, especially Phyllis Hobson's semi-regular contributions.

It's one of those things that makes Baldwin City unique the differences of opinion that range in the various age, etc. groups in town. It's a no-brainer for me I'll print letters as long as they don't cross those legal barrier lines.

As for Furlought's opinions on animal rights, I will grant her the right to her opinions. I don't agree with the more radical elements of those beliefs, but animal rightists certainly are welcome to have them.

Like so many people I talked to about the letter, I'm an animal lover. There can be no doubt just check out our two dogs and what has grown to a pride of eight cats after our first experience of kitten birth last month. (By the way, does anyone need a kitten?)

But, I'm a strong believer in eating beef. Always have been, always will be. I certainly would never suggest that an animal rightist be forced to my way of thinking ... and eating.

All I ask for in return is the same courtesy don't try to take my double cheeseburger away. That's why we all have opinions. That's also why we can share them. See you down the road.

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