Monday, September 13, 2010

Last night I had so many ideas for things I wanted to post - but as often happens, other priorities crop up. (Actually those other priorities are always there, and I can happily procrastinate if the distractions are things such as picking tomatoes or going grocery shopping, but it's hard to allow nonessential writing to take precendence over my academic and administrative duties, sadly.)

Anyway - checked off a bunch of stuff, and I don't want to forget to comment on this. As you can see, the letter I mention here is the first one.

Editor's Note: We had taken the use of the "crowbar slapping" term referred to in a letter in our last issue as a metaphor designed to push the argument to a different level, and applied in a cartoonish manner (the author being a cartoonist by trade). We had not expected the term to be taken literally, and agree that such terminology is less than the civility I see in the overall discourse between these two writers.

A whole lot more defensive than then "good point" response I received via email, eh? It reminded me of this go around from a few years ago. At the time, I puzzled over why Mr. Thayer attacked me personally, and why the OP would print it unedited. A couple of weeks later, when I was in Samsonville and had access to the print edition (at the time they did not post the entire issue online as a PDF file, they only put up excerpts in HTML), I saw that Mr. Thayer regularly advertised his landscaping business in the Olive Press. So that explained why they printed his attack.

The editor's note about Mr. Murphy being a cartoonist struck me. How did they know that about him? I went through the PDF edition and saw that he is credited as the OP's cartoonist! So again, this explains why they ran the letter with the disturbing language.

Am I missing something here? I admit to not being much of a fan of the OP. I believe it is often poorly edited, sloppily researched, and that the bias is almost always anti-Olive. (And the cartoons suck.) The editorials - written by the editor and/or publisher - are truly pathetic. They are invariably stream-of-consciousness pieces, and finger-wagging in tone - admonishing us ignorant, provincial folks to suck it up and embrace whatever agenda the OP is pushing, with exhortations about what is "right." When they know they cannot reasonably push their preferred side of an issue for some reason - they meander around lamely and finally duck the issue.

Maybe that's the reality where such language is only a metaphor, and positively changes the level of discourse. (The editor's note must mean he perceives the level to have been elevated, right?) But how are threats of violence, even metaphorical ones, cartoonish? (I always hated the Road Runner cartoons, btw, and rooted for the coyote.)

I suspect it is because the OP agrees more with Murphy's politics than with Langbert's. As I wrote in my letter, I am not interested because I care a bit about the nuances of their arguments, but I do confess to feeling like snarkily saying to each of them: "hello Murphy? It's the '60s calling. We want our talking points back" and to Langbert "can the tiresome appeal to pride and make your case without the list of great books you believe only the ignorant have not read."

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