Small-town letters to the Ed too nasty for big city east coaster
If it is true, as Tamie Meck says in her column (4/16), that “being small town is a choice we make, not only in where we shop, but in how we treat each other,” then a corollary must be that all of the bile, anger and frustration small town folks hold in to help make these “small towns” work is saved up for the “Letters to the Editor” pages.
Forget Moolick, Richardson and some of the other blatherers on every topic, all one needs to open the floodgates of nastiness, name-calling and flag-waving is to express a personal opinion about dog shootings or, heaven forbid, noisy motorcycles. The kindly folk of Mayberry go ballistic.
Their missiles usually begin with just how “local” they are (i.e., how long they’ve lived in the region) and just what freedom-loving Americans each and every one of them are. Then these letters proceed to tell the previous writer that his/her opinion is dumb, uninformed and un-American and that the previous writer should take his/her stoopid opinion and just “move away if they don’t like it here.” What wonderful, erudite exchanges these are.
For one who’s moved (fairly recently) from a metropolitan area (on the East Coast, no less) to this “small town,” one thing I can say about the “Letters to the Editor” in those big city papers is that, while not always brilliant, mostly they are efforts to exchange issues of some importance and usually at a level of discussion and analysis from which readers can occasionally learn something. Out here at the rugged roots of America, in our “small town,” it seems how we purportedly treat each other face to face has nothing to do with how we treat each other in writing.
In the midst of the Clinton-era scandals, when every newspaper and magazine poured endless gallons of ink into that sordid and tiresome quagmire, a new magazine started up (it recently folded) with a forty-page spread on Hillary Clinton’s supposed role in her husband’s moral flabbiness. That magazine was called “Talk.” A few days later, a wonderful editorial cartoon appeared by MacNelly of the Chicago Tribune. His panel shows a disgruntled gentleman standing in front of newsstand slathered with papers and magazines blaring stories about Linda Tripp, Paula Jones, and “More Monica.” The gentleman is holding a copy of “Talk” and saying to himself: “What we really need is a SHUT UP magazine!”
Or, at least a venue where the length and frequency of letters is moderated by someone at the Post Independent, where temperance and thoughtfulness occasionally creep into these correspondences, where analysis and facts once in a while outweigh spewings of attitude and, finally, where everyone takes a deep breath and remembers that “being small town is a choice we make.”
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