Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Not a tale I distort, of the morning report

When I became gainfully employed again, I finally bit the bullet, and started subscribing to the Globe & Mail. It may be ridiculously and obviously biased, but it remains the newspaper of record in Canada, in the same annoying way that the New York Times is for the American (and, largely, global) market. If nothing else, I supposed it would be informative to know what those pundits I consider fools, liars and madmen think about any given issue; some people are just that good at being a reverse bellwether, and it's safe to assume that their conclusions will variably be somewhere between partially and completely the opposite of reality. However, I'd forgotten one of the things about the paper that annoys me more than biased editing and reporting in a national paper: terrible letters to the editor. The letters page today notes several inane ("Re Study Finds Omega-3 Can Ward Off Alzheimer's (Sept. 3.): Nothing new here. In the 1930s, novelist P.G. Wodehouse knew the value of eating fish."; "The disgust I felt for the actions of Jesse Power, the killer of the cat, was only exceeded by my reaction to a quote from him using the "F" word, spelled out in full."), naive ("The world's Muslim leaders must step forward and, in an international forum such as a conference or at the United Nations, send out the message unequivocally that murder and murder-suicides are not the teachings of Mohammed nor the proper interpretation of the Koran."), pseudo-scientific character-assassinating ("In other words, without benefit of therapy, without any understanding of why he became an alcoholic in the first place, Mr. Bush remains the same person he was when drinking - wily, deceitful, impulsive and egocentric.") and just plain dense ("Happiness can only come from altruistic service to one's community, and not meaningless service to the almighty dollar.") contributions. How is it that a local market-based newspaper like the Citizen can have more intelligent letters to the editor than those? I don't just mean those with which I agree, either; it's possible to make any of the above points intelligently and reasonably, and the manner in which they're presented in these letters most certainly is not that. I suspect I may regret this experiment.

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