In a previous article, I thought it might be of interest to discuss the subject of the “Letters to the Editor” that appear daily in various print and online news sources. Comments ranging from the absurd, comical, and pure hyperbole, to the harshest, vulgar-spewing, and most hate-filled sentiments are available for your perusal.
In a recent letter to the editor, one in particular caught my attention. The individual, whom we shall call Mr. Smith, inquired of the editor why this particular tabloid thought it appropriate to print “comments that were so insulting and condescending that they will further divide the people”. The writer further decried what he had read over time, and felt that to continue to allow such comments would promote a climate of hostility and might provide cause for someone who might already be on the borderline of stability, to strike out violently.
We could all agree that the writer’s intent was noble, and sought only to make an effort to remind the editors that they had an obligation to edit out what would be considered in polite society any comments that were deemed out of the realm of what is acceptable. It is apparent to any of us who do in fact make it a point to read the letters to the editor that many of the respondents are incapable of explaining themselves in clear, civil, concise and simple terms, and perhaps out of frustration resort to inflammatory rhetoric. But then there are also the ideologues. the bigoted, and the hate mongers whose minds reside in the gutter or some dark place.
After some consideration, I thought it appropriate to respond to the writer, hoping the tabloid would see fit to print my letter. Sure enough, it appeared several days later:
"In the April 20 edition Mr. Smith writes that he is troubled by the fact that the editor prints hateful rhetoric and insulting comments from its readers, and that this further divides people. Although his misgivings, which I am certain are shared by many readers, and his intentions are noble, he is naïve to think that the editors are interested only in printing objective truths and facts, and when applicable, constructive and fair criticisms.
"Mr. Smith, this newspaper has a liberal agenda, and that is mainly to belittle, insult and undermine President Trump, Republicans and Conservatives, and to diminish their moral authority and influence. One of the ways they accomplish this is to feed into the hate and insolence of the ignorant and the ideologues, most of whom are on the cultural left."
Most of us have an agenda, whether in our personal or business lives; we set out each day with specific things to do. It can involve scheduling ourselves to arrive at work on time, buying something at the supermarket, a doctor’s appointment, or meeting a friend for lunch. We plan and take measures to accomplish a set of goals. Now perhaps there are those who just wake up in the morning and wander through life by the seat of their pants, or dresses. Their attitude may seem to be "Whatever will be will be," without so much as a casual glance at establishing guidelines and principles; laying down a set of priorities; or caring what lies around the next turn. Achievers, however, always have an agenda.
When we think of agendas, it usually involves politics or the media, and like most of the media, the object of discussion here is the response letter sent to the editor. Aside from selling their product and attracting advertisers, and making a profit, the media will make every effort to increase their newspapers circulation, television viewership or radio listeners.
But in post modern America, agendas have been reformatted, so to speak, and have taken a stark turn, especially in the media. In most cases, they have devolved to a state that is devoid of what were once standards of decency and integrity. Journalism and the fourth estate, in all their manifestations, have been transformed into rigid and uncompromising ideological bastions of partisan demagoguery, and their agendas reflect this.
So to all of you out there who are concerned and troubled, you’re not alone. But keep this in mind, if you see something, or read or hear something that you believe is inappropriate, improper, or just plain untrue, then say something. Don't fear reprisal or criticism; you can handle it. Take a stand; let your voice be heard, just as did Mr. Smith.