I am such an awful meanie!
At least that’s what a few letter-writers seem to think. Well, more that I’m hideously biased and worship the devil.
I’ve said before that I have my personal leanings (which aren’t solely in one direction), but those have nothing to do with how I do my job. If I printed only the opinions I agreed with, there would be very little on the page. I’m far more concerned with truth, which is why Stephanie and I check statements of fact.
As for me worshiping the devil, I dismantled my shrine years ago. All those candles? Bad idea when you have a crazy cat whose tail could easily act as a fuse. (Now, how much do you wanna bet that someone will not see the sarcasm dripping from that devil-worship thing?)
Besides, if I were to build a shrine of some sort, it would more likely be to one of the women called the Goddess of Truth such as Ma’at, Athena, Aletheia, or Veritas.
I’m kind of attached to that truth thing.
Complaints of bias usually happen when a letter has been rejected, and no explanation other than “That Brenda Looper is one biased witch [often with a different word in there]” satisfies the letter-writer. But let’s take a look at a few reasons a letter might be rejected.
√ You’ve called another reader stupid, idiotic, imbecilic, moronic, etc.; or insulted said reader’s mama, intelligence, wardrobe, choice of music, et al. Didn’t your mama teach you better than that? Play nice or I’ll sic my mama on you. She’s sweet and funny, but she’s fierce; you do not want to rile her up.
√ You’ve convicted someone in print. Calling someone who has not been convicted a criminal doesn’t fly; lawsuits certainly could.
Just because you don’t like someone is no reason to call him a criminal … but being found guilty of a criminal offense is. Yes, we at the newspaper tend to act with an abundance of caution, as being sued is no fun.
√ You’ve said something that’s not true. A lot of the tales out there, especially about politicians, are often out of context, altered, or completely made up … sometimes highly entertaining, but still false. The fact that so many Onion stories have been taken as truth shows just how talented its writers are at satire. Unfortunately, it’s also spawned a lot of imitators who aren’t so good and don’t make it clear that the stories they peddle are false. Add to that people who question nothing that confirms their worldview, and you have a volatile situation.
If just because I get cranky about that stuff.
If it’s a talking point, just go ahead and assume it’s at least partially false; it’s a pretty safe bet.
√ You’ve used language inappropriate for a family newspaper, including things such as bodily functions that won’t pass the breakfast test. A past letter we received about Bobby Petrino had such an “inventive” excuse for profanity that I stuck it on my bulletin board: “Sorry ’bout the f-bomb. It just came out that way.”
I might have believed it had the letter not been printed from a computer and mailed. That indicates a bit of thought going into it … but not enough to delete the word in question.
There are other reasons a letter might be rejected, some of which are related to timing. However, a bias against conservatives isn’t one of them, despite what a certain letter-writer believes, as his recent critical letters over the past month about Hillary Clinton haven’t been printed.
Not fair and balanced
Over the previous month I have submitted four letters to the Voices page. They were all rejected, and they were all critical of Hillary Clinton.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine the ideology of Brenda Looper, does it? But she never promised to have a fair and balanced Voices page, did she?
My last four letters were rejected and I’m sure this one will meet the same fate.
I sure do miss Meredith Oakley.
Suffice it to say that at least two of the above conditions were present in the letters. He also miscounted his letters (three rather than four), but that’s beside the point.
That doesn’t mean I don’t print letters critical of Hillary and other liberals; otherwise, Mr. Lemon might have a case. So, yep, I decided to count positive and negative letters about her, using the search terms “Hillary Clinton,” “letters,” and “editorial” (the section they’re listed under in the archives).
What can I say? I’m a research nut.
Just for laughs, I decided to search the past two months … and it turned out I needed to go back that far just to find positive letters about our Hillary; two on the same day, June 15, one written by a Republican.
The vast majority of the 14 letters printed about Hillary were negative—10 letters (including some by Democrats) in which she was all but called the devil … though I might have missed that. The other two letters were neither positive nor negative.
And by the way, out of curiosity I checked Mr. Lemon’s history of being printed and, surprise, surprise, I found only about five letters between 2008 and March 2011 when Meredith (two editors before me) left; he’s easily had double that printed since I started working on the page in July 2011.
Gosh, seems like someone likes to play the victim, doesn’t it?
This isn’t the first time I’ve been prompted to do a letter count because of an accusation of bias. The last one (coincidentally, requested by the same reader) was of Democratic and Republican letters in the two months leading up to the midterm elections, and even I was surprised by the near-even counts.
So why do some people still insist that there’s a wild imbalance? For some, even one positive thing about someone they hate is too much, especially if that hatred is a bit obsessive.
I can’t pretend to understand why Tom Cotton holds such malice for Iran (did a mullah say “boo” and make a face at him when he was a boy??). You might remember, long before that famous letter and his Twitter war with Iran’s foreign minister, that he proposed a “corruption of blood” amendment (to a bill supposedly meant to prevent a nuclear Iran) that would automatically (no due process) punish family members of anyone who violated sanctions against Iran with up to 20 years in prison.
In his spiel to the House Foreign Affairs Committee at the time, Cotton said:
“There would be no investigation. If the prime malefactor of the family is identified as on the list for sanctions, then everyone within their family would automatically come within the sanctions regime as well. It’d be very hard to demonstrate and investigate to conclusive proof.”
He ultimately had to withdraw that amendment after a contentious markup hearing. I guess Mr. Constitution didn’t know that Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution … well, kinda makes that a no-no:
“Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court. The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted.”
Oops. Perhaps Young Tom was napping the day that was covered in Constitutional Law class.
I likewise can’t understand Mr. Lemon’s obsession with Hillary unless he’s been personally wronged by her, and all indications say no.
Virtually all of his letters, each remarkably similar to the others, have been about her. Dude, my short-term memory may not be that great right now, but I have the tendency to remember letters when I see the same one multiple times.
It’s true that Hillary is probably the least likable of the Clintons. When she was here as the state’s first lady, she took a lot of flack, especially for continuing to work, keeping her maiden name, and being from Illinois.
She was never exactly warm, but that doesn’t explain the absolute blind hatred some people have for her and anyone else named Clinton (or Obama … or Trump … OK, that one I get … not knowing anything about him beforehand would probably exacerbate the hate and amplify the asshat factor).
Many of Hillary’s “scandals” thus seem overblown, with every little thing she does criticized and categorized as criminal (existence as a Clinton being that crime).
However, she still has a lot to explain … and she’s not exactly big on that.
I could always be wrong, though, and there could be good reasons for the Hating-Hillary obsession other than her bunker mentality and not-warm personality … perhaps she likes kicking flag-waving puppies … especially if they’re eating hot dogs and apple pie in the bed of a Chevrolet pickup at a baseball game.