A Word From The Publisher
This week’s letters column has a robust debate about whether the Garden City News should publish all letters or whether, in the interests of promoting more civil discourse, we should toss out letters might be described as “diatribes”.
Here’s our general philosophy when it comes to the letters page: we print almost all signed letters that we get. There are some exceptions, though. We don’t print letters about consumer disputes, for example, because this is not a forum for those sorts of complaints.
We don’t print the mass emailed letters we get from several correspondents in other states that have absolutely nothing to do with Garden City.
We don’t print personal attacks, and this is where there is certain amount of grey area. A personal attack on a private individual is absolutely not going to be published. An attack on a national figure’s actions and or character is probably going to get published if it also makes some rational points about how the country should be governed.
The greyest area would be an attack on a local government official. In those cases we try to stick to the rule that the attack would have to be on the governmental actions of the individual.
For example, saying that the MayorSuperintendentTrustee drinks too much wouldn’t make the cut. But saying that the MayorSuprintendentTrustee drinks too much before board meetings and would do his/her job better sober would certainly be worth publishing (assuming the letter writer could back up that claim with proof!)
In the case of Mr. Heaney’s letter from the November 16th issue, we do feel that it was worth publishing, even though we agreed with almost none of his statements.
We think of our letters page as a marketplace of ideas. All ideas are on offer to anyone who wants to buy them. The best and most valuable ideas will be bought by the most people, but at least all ideas are there to be considered. The least helpful ideas eventually become marginalized until they are discarded.
Banning ideas from the marketplace only drives them underground, where they can’t be discussed and refuted.
Meg Morgan Norris