I am not a native of New England but I have grown to love the region. I like the geography, the scenery and the people. It is not a bad place for a Midwestern/Southern/military kid to wind up in his later years! Perhaps the cold winters have created a tough breed of people who have no problem expressing their thoughts and opinions on a wide range of subjects all the while not caring in the least what others think? Maybe that is a stereotype but many stereotypes have at least a bit of truth in them somewhere.
One thing I especially like and admire about many New Englanders is their penchant for saying what they mean and "saying it to your face." This is often true even if it is mean or unfair. I have observed that here, if people do not like someone, that person knows it quickly. I have an African-American friend who once said he preferred bigots who wore sheets because at least you knew where you stood with them. Much scarier were those who smiled to your face but did or said things behind your back.
Being upfront and forthright about how one feels is a wonderful quality and this quality is reflected in the pages of The Sun, my favorite "small town newspaper!" Even when an attack is unfair or personal most people say it to your face or at least sign it.
Ed Engler is a courageous man. He is willing to publish anything no matter how outside-of-the-box it may be. He even publishes the "loony" letters. Of course, "loony" is a relative matter; I am sure many feel that includes a few of my own contributions! Ah, I love a free press!
The Sun Writers Club (We did meet for lunch. Does that qualify us as a "club?") is a diverse and interesting group. They are also courageous. Many disagree with each other but all have that quality I like: even when it is a unwarranted or personal attack, they still have the You-Know-Whats to "say it to your face" or to at least sign their names.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with writing under a "pen name" or alias when addressing a political or social issue. Our Founding Fathers did that frequently. For example, the letters to the New York press defending the new U.S. Constitution that became known as the Federalist Papers were written under a pseudonym. As many know, Ben Franklin was also adept at this tactic of taking on a different persona. Anonymous personal attacks and intimidation, however, have no place in this process.
As a proud member of The Sun Writers Club, I have had many responses outside of The Sun. Some of these are "fans" who agree with me. My wife has taken numerous calls from people who say "I just love what your hubby writes." It is natural that I am pleased that at least some agree with me! But, I know there are people who do not and who instead agree with other writers. I am sure those who take positions different than mine have their own "fan clubs".
On the other hand, I also have had plenty of communication with those who disagree with me. I talk via phone fairly regularly with at least two Sun contributors I disagree with. I have had lunch with people I would never vote for. But, no matter how they communicate with me they at least identify themselves. I do the same when I have something to say to someone.
What has no place in public, political and academic dialogue are anonymous and threatening hate messages, intimidating e-mails, unsigned "poison pen" letters, anonymous crank calls, harassing hang-up calls and the like. These are cowardly acts. If you have something to say to someone, especially if it is negative, say it to their face. If not, then at least have the courage to identify yourself in any sort of communication. This is how adults living in a sane, democratic society behave.
(Scott Cracraft is a citizen, a taxpayer, a veteran, and a resident of Gilford. He has an opinion about most things.)
- Category: Letters
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