Your Opinion: Read, research, respond

Dear Editor:

I want to thank Geraldean McMillin for her contributions to these pages. I appreciate and support her call for love and civility. I have tried to treat my detractors with respect.

That said, a critical examination of ideas and even public figures should be able to include a certain harsh vigor, hyperbole and satire. In this ad homonym age of confrontational talk shows and flaming e-mails, it is difficult to find a debate that generates light instead of heat. Too often people mistake an attack on their ideas as an attack on them. The pity is that we become too identified with an idea and so vehement in defending it, that we fail to be open to new ideas and hard facts. It is no disgrace to be ignorant. A curiosity about what we don’t know is the basis of science and all advanced spiritual quests. Stupidity is a different matter.

Stupidity is willful ignorance, a refusal to even examine our beliefs and a disrespect for any ideas or facts that appear to threaten them. The late, great Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”

There are a couple of pet peeves I have concerning some of the (mercifully unnamed) contributors to these pages. One is a failure to read what has actually been written. This often has the effect of causing the respondent to rail on and on, wasting their valuable space refuting a point that has already been conceded for the sake of argument or not even raised.

Another is a failure to research the definition of a word or the background of a statement. Unfortunately the truncated format of our LTTE often does not allow for footnotes detailing the background of every fact or opinion. It would be nice if responders would independently research a statement before revealing their lack of knowledge of an evident fact. It is really quite easy if you have a connection to Google.

I have pledged not to get involved in any rebuttals that embody some or all of the above stated defects (as well as a refusal to acknowledge personal attacks) so I will not be responding to any of the rebuttals to my comments concerning Christianity, tempting as such debates might be.

I would rather move on to more fruitful discussions with more rational or better-informed interlocutors.

Issue-oriented letters to the editor in response to this or about other local topics are welcome. All letters should be limited to 400 words. The author's name must appear with the letter, and the name, address and phone number provided for verification. Letters that cannot be verified by telephone will not be published. Send letters for publication to editor@newstribune.com

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