Lobbing cheap grenades of insults and sarcasm

April 03, 2010 05:00 am

The Curry Coastal Pilot has long prided itself on publishing darn near every letter to the editor it receives.

But this week has been the exception. We have rejected  several letters mostly because of the writers’ particularly nasty tone. Simply put, they attacked fellow writers, rather than the issue at hand. Even when a writer addressed an issue, it seemed only to incite or antagonize rather than debate.

In every case, the venomous letters were political in nature, addressing President Obama, the controversial health care plan, the tea party, the Democrats, the Republicans, and so on.

The name-calling has become a nationwide phenomenon, judging by what we are hearing on radio, television and the Internet these days. Where is all this button-pushing and party-bashing getting us? Nowhere. And the world is watching.

We’re all for the passionate exchange of ideas, philosophies and opinions, but not at the expense of others. Mean-spirited submissions don’t have a place in civilized  discussion, especially in the pages of a community newspaper.

Today’s issues are complex, yet many letter writers, in taking intense polar positions, over-simplify them and argue the same points ad infinitum. This adds nothing new to the debate and, in fact, may make matters worse by directing efforts away from potential solutions.

Perhaps lobbing cheap grenades of insults and sarcasm at faceless letter writers is an expression of legitimate frustration. But, in the end, they often backfire, reflecting poorly on the name caller, making them appear small.

So please, when entering into a potentially raucous debate, approach it with civility and an understanding that there are other legitimate, rational views on an issue.

Treat others as you would have them treat you.