August 28, 2008 · Updated 4:35 PM
Discussion, and even debate, on issues is a good thing. Democracy depends upon an informed and participating citizenry and we have too little public involvement in public issues. Fortunately, we have a local newspaper which not only reports on local events and issues, but reserves space for citizens to express their own views and concerns by submitting a 'Letter to the Editor.'
I enjoy reading these letters. Sometimes I agree with the writer, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I become better informed, sometimes not. Whichever the case, these letters make me feel more connected and involved with our community. I suppose writing a letter and having it published in the newspaper isn't really a 'right.' I don't know of a requirement that forces newspapers to provide this service. Maybe there is. More likely, it is a civic service to the community which newspaper owners and editors have long honored. I also suspect it makes good business sense.
What I don't enjoy, and I speak only for myself, is turning to the 'Letters to the Editor' and finding a supposed 'letter' that is actually an overblown soapbox tirade that goes on and on, paragraph after paragraph, while the writer vents on his or her topic of the day. (I've seen 'State of the Union' speeches that were shorter.) I imagine most people do what I do read one of these marathon 'letters to the editor' once, note who wrote it and don't waste time reading their letters again. I don't expect the authors of such letters to change their behavior. What I would like would be for The Arlington Times to change by setting a reasonable word limit for 'letters to the editor' and then enforcing it. (And, if this letter is over 350 words, please feel free to edit it.