The unruly mob comes to the editorial page

April 05, 2010

For years I would carefully craft letters to the editor of the Sunpapers, feeling that the letters section was the appropriate place to have reasoned and civil discourse about the content of the paper. The process of having letters edited was at once frustrating and instructive.

Sadly, today's paper mirrors the problems infecting much of the media, allowing a no holds barred, "democratic" approach in which equal weight is given to each opinion regardless of how ill informed the opinion is. While instructive at showing a "diversity" of opinion, the result turns the editorial page into a barroom brawl. In the past two days, April 4 and 5, readers responded to an editorial on the census ("Getting it right") with such well thought out gems as "I didn't fill out my census form and don't plan to" and "I don't trust the government with Obama behind the wheel." Responses to an editorial the rise of hate groups ( "A resurgence of hate") with, "The Southern Poverty Law Center sure hates a lot of groups."

Allowing this parade of ignorance cheapens the discourse needed to have a strong democracy. It gives people the license to disrupt town hall meetings and spit on members of Congress. Civility is a barometer of our nation's health.

Tim Eastman, Baltimore

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