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Curmudgeon's Corner: Feedback is far more credible with a signature (OPINION)

August 15, 2012

In the years I have been writing this op-ed I recall receiving only two letters and several emails. The latter have been mostly complimentary.
Both letters, on the other hand, were pretty harsh. The first, written back in the second George W. Bush administration, accused me of being a conservative and “a Karl Rove stooge”. The latter charge I found interesting since I have never met or spoken to Mr. Rove and he wouldn’t know me if he bumped into me on the street.
This letter was signed and I was able to find the author’s address in the white pages so I sent him a reply regarding the first allegation. This reader sent me a reply in which he stated that he didn’t “give a rat’s sphincter” what my views were on anything.
Last week’s letter was unsigned. I recall a North Kingstown Town Council meeting not too long ago during which President Liz Dolan announced that members of the council had received an anonymous letter complaining about something or other. Mrs. Dolan said that neither she nor any other member of the council gave any weight to unsigned letters. This is probably the reason why newspapers won’t print anonymous letters to the editor.
The letter addressed to me was brief. I’m going to share it with you exactly as written.
“Sometimes the truth hurts, Mr. August, I don’t usually read your columns because I didn’t care for you before you began writing them. We have net several times when you used to come into my office and yet, somehow, you never had the courtesy to remember any of our names. You also tried to tell us what the rules and regulations were, even though you didn’t work with them daily…and your assumptions were, to put it politely…always incorrect. On the other hand I’ve known Phil and Phyllis Morin for more than 30 years now. Phil is a brilliant man, and you are, indeed, indeed a right wing nut. And a rude one at that. A good Christian turns the other cheek, but whenever someone disagrees with you, you always act like a petulant little boy. It’s been a long time since you were six, my dear. Do the world a favor and stop spewing your personal hatred; a visit with Father [name of priest] in the confessional is in order. I’d sign my name, but you never have the common courtesy to remember me in the first place, so why start now?”
I honestly cannot figure out who the writer is. The return address scrawled on the envelope is the former Standard-Times office in Wickford. There are three people listed as living in the apartments on the second floor of the building. I do not recognize any of their names so perhaps the writer used a phony return address.
I also have no idea what office (s)he is referring to and wonder if the persons working there ever introduced themselves to me so I might have an opportunity to remember their names. Nor do I have any clue regarding the “rules and regulations” to which the writer refers.
The Phil Morin (s)he refers to wrote a letter to the editor following my Curmudgeon’s Corner about Obamacare in which he implied that I was a right-wing nut. (At least I don’t recall him saying that I was rude.)
Apparently what set off the writer of the letter addressed to me was my acknowledgement in the last Curmudgeon’s Corner of Mr. Morin’s letter and description of me (to my knowledge he and I have never met). Mr. Morin also took exception to my use of the term “death panels” in reference to former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. I reminded Mr. Morin that Obamacare doesn’t go into full effect until 2014 so we won’t know how health care will be rationed until then.
A couple of folks who read Mr. Morin’s letter to the editor asked if I was going to respond in detail. I said I wouldn’t do that since he had revealed that his wife has been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and therefore it is easy to understand how the topic of health care is a sensitive one to the Morins.
I am intrigued when someone advises another person to seek the counsel of a clergyman. The writer isn’t specific about what sin(s) I should confess but I recall the biblical parable of the woman caught in adultery recounted in the eighth chapter of John’s Gospel verses 4-9.
Some Christian traditions have it that when Jesus wrote in the sand next to the adulterous woman about to be put to death, the righteous folks holding the stones each saw their name and a sin they had committed whereupon one by one they walked away.
One thing I have noticed over the years is that when faced with a discussion based on fact and logic, liberals usually resort to ad hominem attacks on the speaker or writer. That’s because liberal’s positions tend to be based on emotions and feelings.
Hence, if you disagree with President Obama’s policies or express disappointment with his handling of economic or foreign affairs, you are a “racist”. If you happen to believe that the term marriage should be reserved for a legal relationship between one man and one woman, you are a “homophobe”. Should you believe immigration laws should be enforced, you are a “bigot”. If you hold any of these views you are “a right wing nut”. You get the idea.
The writer(s) is right about one thing however: I am no longer six.
I am sure the editor and publisher of this newspaper receive letters and phone calls critical of what I write. On the other hand, I have had dozens of readers send me emails, recognize me in the post office and market, at church or come up to me on the street. All but one has told me they enjoy Curmudgeon’s Corner and encourage me to continue to write.
I intend to do as long as Southern Rhode Island Newspapers wants me to. I promise to try not to be rude or spew hatred. But I will present opinion based on facts and topics about which I have personal knowledge.
Finally, to whoever wrote the letter quoted above, when someone is critical or has valid points to make (s)he is much more credible when you sign your name. It shouldn’t matter if the recipient recognizes you or not.

Richard August is a North Kingstown resident and a regular contributor to the Standard Times. He served for six years on North Kingstown’s Audit Committee and was its chairman for the last two. His opinions are his own.

Southern Rhode Island Newspapers
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