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Letters To The Editor: How They Work

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Editor’s Note:

We’ve reached a new era in debate and expression of opinion in America these days. Sadly, it requires some explanation here tonight.

This post (and for the record this post is being drafted by News24/680 Editorial) replaces an earlier, posted Letter to the Editor from a reader in Walnut Creek.

For those who may have seen it during its brief life, the posted letter was critical of a local police department. While its receipt made us cringe for a number of reasons we posted the letter after telephonic confirmation was made confirming the identity of the author and a discussion over its intended messaging was conducted and affirmed. Posting such a letter is a right still available to us all as citizens of this country.

As usual, the post started to attract attention and commentary within minutes. Although some were off the mark – unfortunately also a sign of the times – none violated our terms of service requirements preventing threats or hate speech etc. and all comments were posted in a timely fashion. Others were lining up…

It was at this point that we were again contacted by the author of the letter and asked if, after his consideration, it couldn’t be published anonymously, something we do not do. When we told him so he opted to strike the letter and it was deleted from this site.

Now, in this age of Deep State conspiracy theories and parking lot punch-ups, we could see how this could trigger the usual derisive commentary we see so much of around here, some of it aimed at us. That’s okay, we’re used to it – it goes with the territory.

BUT – the bare truth of the issue is that a person wishing to express himself about an issue of importance to him was eventually dissuaded from doing so by the resultant public howl.

The merits of the thoughts expressed in the letter aside, we thought it a shame that someone could be silenced in this way, and we would counsel future correspondents to choose their words – and positions – with care, because you’ll be asked to stand by them.

We didn’t think we needed to say that but apparently, we do.

13 COMMENTS

  1. A critical letter regarding the Moraga PD and its Chief by name…from Walnut Creek? Not exactly sister “towns”.

    • We know many people who live in Moraga and work in Walnut Creek and some from there who are more than familiar with Moraga. We’re not aware of any great wall dividing us or preventing a person there from observing/commenting on something happening in MoTown. And vice versa, of course. People from Lamorinda routinely comment on things they see going on in Walnut Creek.

  2. So some guy that contacts you can have his opinion? But when people post comments being critical of the guy, it’s now ‘public howl’?

    He wasn’t silenced. I hope you’ll put that letter back up. I hope you’ll allow all the critical comments to go public (obviously not the threats).

    Stop this double standard. This is my opinion.

    • James –
      “So some guy that contacts you can have his opinion?” – Yes. It’s called a “Letter to the Editor.” If you wrote one and identified yourself and refrained from any of the naughty bits that keep people from airing their view your letter would go up. It’s a concept that has been around a while, we’re surprised so many seem so unfamiliar with it.

      “I hope you’ll put the letter back up…” Again, its author requested it be taken down. We were fully prepared to let it stand despite our misgivings. All the comments, even critical ones, went up with it. We responded to yours.

      “Stop this double standard…” And which one might that be?

      “This is my opinion…” To which you are entitled, as was the gentleman who wrote us. Again, we’re baffled as to why so many are unclear on this concept. And AGAIN, the author OPTED to withdraw his letter – something to which we were opposed – in the face of public criticism. It was his choice to make.

  3. Like my comment on the original post, how can someone be so critical of someone else but can’t accept the criticism themselves?

    Maybe Mr. Taylor needs to learn that simple rule before being so opinionated.

  4. Interesting scenario. I sense a backstory. And I can’t help but wonder what would happen if we were still in the age of newspapers??

    • Your instincts are on point. And if we were still in the age of newspapers we would guess there would be a confrontation in a saloon or bar, words would be exchanged about the merit/content of said letter and then a duel would probably be fought in some out of the way glen.

  5. People use fake names when they write in to a newspaper. If he’s that concerned about his identity, he has his options.

  6. I read the “Letter to the Editor” as well as the comments yesterday. I think it’s odd that someone in WC would be that concerned about Moraga PD, and upset by the comments, that weren’t that bad — to the point that he now wants to be anonymous, or have the letter deleted. I also sense a backstory.

    • Again, the author asked us to delete the correspondence after asking if it could be published anonymously – which we declined. And for a (now not-so-little) Digital Media outlet we do seem to get more than our share of intrigue.

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