To the editor:
(re: “What is going on with Israel?” Oct. 3)
There are some serious letter writers, there are critiquers, there are ad hominem attackers, and there are cranks who all write letters to this esteemed newspaper.
The cranks are well-known — they repeatedly show up trotting out the same arguments, no matter the topic. “I’m right, you’re a (fill in the blank).”
Critiquers offer positive alternatives to problems presented. And serious letter writers all keep a civil tone, free of vitriol.
The ad hominem attackers, though, are disturbing. Mr. Richard Warren’s recent critique of a recently published letter calling my responses to a well-known crank “lazy” is just beyond the pale.
Unfortunately, the plague of the screaming mimis, the personal (ad hominem) attacks on letter writers show a severe lack of respect — not so much for the ones attacked, but for the institution of free speech itself. Disagreement is inherent in a free society. Name-calling, which apparently is the current default and a disgraceful national habit, has taken too strong a hold of our historically normally respectful discourse here in the Bronx.
Mr. Warren, I am not so much personally offended by your comment, for offending me is something that isn’t possible. If you know me, you’d know that. But offending the forum where we present our views by personally attacking me — using inflammatory language, and exalting one’s self in the process, represents the pinnacle of disrespect for First Amendment freedoms.
The discussions in The Riverdale Press belong above the gutter, not in it.
You are entitled to write whatever you please. But I should point out doing so in such a negative and personal manner is done at the risk of others losing respect for your point of view, and tuning you out. If we have any doubt, we need look no further than the public discourse coming out of the White House.
We in our community can and should — and will — do better.
Let’s all agree to be civil, especially in criticism. I don’t believe cranks can be, and Mr. Warren, you do not appear to be such a writer. So there is hope that this appeal to civility is heard.
One’s own views will shine brighter, and likely be heard more clearly in the process. Let’s set an example for civil discourse that other communities will gladly follow.