Politics, schmolitics …

Which is why I don’t like politics. Maybe I would if cats were involved …
Image found on The Cat Site.

OK, I admit it. I’m a liberal. I’m also a conservative. And a libertarian. And profoundly silly (mostly that, really).

Oh, no! I’m not ideologically pure! Gasp!

Like most people, my politics are not confined to one part of the spectrum; my thoughts will vary according to the topic. One of the reasons I’m not a fan of party politics, especially as they are now, is because of groupthink (and I hate that word, so you know I’m serious). Rarely will a workable solution for a problem be completely one-sided; the best solutions for the greatest number of people tend to evolve through compromise. Pragmatism is not a bad thing, you know. (And … just a thought … it might be a good idea to take the time for hearings, markups and all the fact-finding that should go into making laws. Crazy, I know.) I miss the days when political identification didn’t matter and people worked together for the greater good, not for the glory of the party. I really miss people like Dale Bumpers and John Paul Hammerschmidt, two true public servants who knew that people are more important than parties.

Nah, this one’s not corrupt. He’s a very good boy!
Image found on Pinterest.

So why should my party affiliation matter (especially since I don’t claim a party)? It shouldn’t, but it does to a few readers of the Voices page. Therefore, let’s address, again, a few matters regarding letters. (Sorry, out-of-state readers, for such an Arkansas-newspaper-centric piece, but I’m giving you adorable animals to make up for it.)

The vast majority of the letters we receive at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette are what some might consider liberal (though they’re often more middle-of-the-road than anything else, and sometimes center-right—apparently even conservatives who don’t particularly like the president are considered liberal now). Because of that, that may be more of what you see on a given day.

I have a few choice words about the Gillett Coon Supper. They ate my family, and some of them I liked!
Image found on mypmp.net.

Some days, you may see mostly conservative letters if that happens to be what I’ve got at the moment, though I try hard not to have a page (that includes the columns, which are mostly conservative, and cartoon) that’s all liberal or all conservative. What makes that difficult is that when I talk to some conservative readers and encourage them to write in, I typically get a response like, “Well, I shouldn’t have to,” or “If I write in, liberals will attack me.”

In the nicest way possible, I say, “Get over it.” People of all stripes have taken the chance because they believed in something, and have endured the abuse that some people seem to believe is deserved by differing opinions. If you believe in something just as strongly, write. I don’t let letter-writers attack each other on the page, but I can’t control what they might do if they feel the need to track someone down, which is extraordinarily easy, as evidenced by past liberal letter-writers who’ve reported abuse. I know, I just made writing a letter sound a little dangerous, but it’s not really. If you want your voice to be heard, write; be brave enough to stand behind your words. I can’t run letters I don’t get.

I have a cranky opinion. I need this pen to write it down as a letter to the editor.
Image found on Pinterest.

Of course, not all letters get in. Sometimes it may be because news events make them moot, or I didn’t have time to verify a letter’s statements before it got too old (one of the side effects of cutting staff is the struggle to get more work done in the same amount of time). Sometimes a letter may be inappropriate for a family newspaper. Sometimes the letter-writer didn’t respond to my request to print the letter (hey, if I email or call you, answer if you want that letter in).

Sometimes things stated as facts aren’t necessarily true; perhaps it’s the opinion of the writer, but it isn’t phrased as opinion. At times those statements could be salvaged with an attribution (“Barack Obama was born in Kenya, according to WorldNetDaily,” for instance); it doesn’t make it true, but it does tell people where you got that information. That way you’re simply reporting what was said.

OK, the bunny’s only been charged (no, I dunno if he’s rechargeable), so don’t call him a criminal just yet.
Image found on cheezburger.

Sometimes (far too many times, really), a writer has convicted someone in print of something for which no charges have even been brought—for example, you can say Bill Clinton is a perjurer as the House impeached him on perjury and obstruction charges, but you can’t say Hillary Clinton is a murderer because she has never been convicted of, or even charged with, any such crime. Seriously, is it that hard not to call someone a criminal who has not been convicted? (Yeah, what am I saying …)

I often get letters across the political spectrum that echo talking points from national pundits—sometimes word for word. Besides the fact that I’ve never been a fan of repeating talking points, many of which are blatantly false, printing essentially the same letter repeatedly doesn’t serve the readers. I know you can think for yourselves.

Was it so hard to ask politely?
Image found on Pinterest.

Civility also goes a long way, as does waiting until you’re clearheaded to send in a letter (rereading in a clear state of mind does wonders, and can keep you from sending in word salad or something that might get you and the paper sued if printed). Sure, it might make you feel better to rant and rave about the evil Voices editor or a dastardly column writer, but if what you write is incomprehensible and/or outrageously vitriolic, you’ve sort of sunk yourself.

It’s not that hard to be civil. And I’m pretty sure it won’t kill you. It may ruin your reputation with the boys at the bar, but is their approval really that important?

There is at least one letter-writer, who shall remain nameless, that I will never please. The presence of John Brummett (and me and my apparent far-far-left tendency, which is a surprise to those who know me) is all the proof he needs that I’m the worst thing that ever happened to the Voices page.

I can do it again, and probably will many more times.
Image found on Cambodia Expats Online.

Deliver facts to him, such as that he’s had at least four times (a conservative estimate) as many letters printed on the page in the past five years than in all the years preceding, and it doesn’t matter. He’ll keep sending multiple letters in the space of a few weeks and complain when any one of them isn’t printed. And nine out of 10 of them will contain blatantly false information and/or libel.

Do the research he asked for comparing numbers of liberal and conservative letters, and he’ll ignore it if it doesn’t prove his point. Tell him he can’t convict people in print or call other letter-writers morons, and he’ll double down.

My political leanings (again, all over the map) don’t affect the way I do my job. I get called evil by conservatives and liberals alike when I don’t print a letter.

If doing my job makes me evil, then fine, says my mama: “I raised you right, you evil little girl.”

But it’s the fun kind of evil. Really. I promise.

My mom’s been training people in mischief for decades!


I was framed, I tells ya!
Screenshot from nj.com.

Speaking of the fun kind of evil, policemen in Cape May, N.J., indulged in a little good-natured tomfoolery when a patrolman responded to reports of a pug running through yards.

The officer collared the pup, named Bean, and took a “pugshot” (yeah, I can’t take credit for that), posting it to Facebook. It, of course, went viral, but it still took a few hours for Bean’s owner to realize her pug was a jailbird and bail Bean out, reportedly with cookies.

A comment from Yadira Aguilar on the department’s Facebook post pretty much summed it up: “Crime is out of control! It must be…. ruff in NJ.”

At least Bean had a happy ending.
Screenshot from nj.com.

Sometimes it takes something like this to realize you’re an idiot … or have idiots for friends.
Image found on Pinterest.

 

15 thoughts on “Politics, schmolitics …

  1. Spoiler Alert:

    2 + 2 = 4 is NOT an opinion.

    Hillary getting substantially more of the popular vote is NOT an opinion.

    Trump’s inaugural being smaller than Obama’s is NOT an opinion.

    Obama being born in Honolulu is NOT an opinion.

    Trump being a doo-doo-head IS an opinion (but with a lot of evidence to support it).

    And by the way, can someone explain something from the TrumPutin press conference?

    Trump: President Putin assures me he did NOT interfere in our election.

    Putin, in response to the questions (1) Did you want Trump to win and (2) did you order your senior officials to help him win? — Yes, I did. Yes, I did.

    Waiting for Putin to clarify that he meant to say, No, I didn’t. No, I didn’t.

    Sometimes, I think I didn’t do enough drugs in the sixties.

    Like

  2. Not surprised that the letter writers are so bad. Just look at the comments on some of the major newpaper websites. Seems like people these days only write when they want to skewer the other guy. Sad, considering comments and letters have long been favorites of mine. People are losing their minds. (And yes, I realize this is a comment … )

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    • So many of the comments on the paper’s site are little more than bullying and cut-and-paste diatribes. Some get banned, but they just change their user names and come back.
      There are some wise commenters, some of whom also write letters. There just aren’t enough of those. 🙄

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  3. Brenda you are an interesting combination. If you were ideologically pure, I might not read your blog and your columns. Did you know that the Irish compare their folk music to water from a well? What the Irish call the “pure drop” is the real, genuine folk music of their country.

    Like

  4. For some people thinking for themselves is too difficult and makes their head hurt. There is a risk that their heads might explode messily if they tried to think for themselves.

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  5. People losing their minds Pied Type? My former sister-in-law lost her mind years ago and she has never noticed that her brain is missing. Yes she did vote for Donald Trump and she criticized me for not voting for him.

    Like

  6. Did you hear that the Energizer Bunny Rabbit was in court because he was charged with battery? Since the case drained the Rabbit, the judge ordered a recess so the Rabbit could be re-charged. Then the Rabbit’s attorney asked for a continuance which meant the case will go on and on and on………

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  7. I tried to encourage my former sister-in-law to learn how to think for herself but it did not work because her brain is still missing and her head did not explode.

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