WE present to you, dear reader, a letter-to-the-editor titled Separate opinion from news, which appears in the Spokesman-Review, published in Spokane, Washington. We’ll copy most of today’s letter, but we’ll omit the writer’s name and city, and we’ll add some bold for emphasis. Here we go:
I write to address troubling patterns I see emerging at The Spokesman-Review.
Ah, a concerned citizen worried about “troubling patterns.” We’re intrigued. Let’s read on:
Lately, the S-R has allowed opinion pieces to creep onto the front page and other “hard news” sections
That’s also one of our gripes about journalism in general. But what, specifically, outraged this reader in Spokane? We continue:
The latest example is Shawn Vestal’s July 28 front page article, “Furor over fluoride hard to swallow,” where he states that, “Unfortunately,” those opposing fluoridation have kept fighting, and that they “are using the same tools that flat-earthers drag out to deny global warming or argue for intelligent design: information that looks suspiciously like science.”
What an outrage — lumping fluoride conspiracy believers with flat-earthers, global warming deniers, and — gasp! — creationists too. Here’s more:
If this is so, then Shawn should be able to make his case without resorting to the personal attacks that are rife through this piece.
Yes, but it’s so much more fun to do it Shawn’s way. Here’s his “offensive” article, by the way: Furor over fluoride hard to swallow. Hey, get this — Shawn reports that:
Spokane voters have rejected fluoride three times. Each vote – in 1969, 1984 and 2000 – inched closer to passage. In 2000, Proposition 1 failed by 2 percentage points.
Wow — the citizens of Spokane are channeling General Jack D. Ripper!
You don’t know who that is? See: Dr. Strangelove. Moving along in today’s letter:
Please, S-R, leave your opinions in the “Opinion” section, leave the ad-hominem attacks from your staff on your blogs, and stick to reporting “Just the facts, Ma’am” on the front page and other “hard news” sections, and let the readers form their own opinions from those facts without the snide comments and condescension.
As we read this, it’s obvious that the letter-writer belongs to one of the fringe groups mentioned in Shawn’s article, and he bitterly resents being lumped together with the others. But what’s his personal cause? Is he anti-fluoride but anti flat-earth — or maybe vice versa? Is he one of the few creationists who accepts the science of global warming?
We hope the mystery gets cleared up soon, because this next excerpt is the end of the letter:
Oh, and for the record, I am pro-fluoridation, but thanks for letting me know that being an “intelligent design” believer puts me on equal footing with “flat-earthers,” Spokesman-Review, and charging me for the privilege.
[Writer’s name and city can be seen in the original.]
Well, there it is. The letter-writer is one of those very rare creationists who is not only okay with fluoride in the water, but who also resents being associated with flat-earthers. He may be the only one of those alive. We can’t fault the journalist for being unaware that such a person could exist.
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