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Letter: Civilized discourse

The chairs of the Lewisboro Republican, Democratic and Conservative town committees don’t always agree on everything, but we do agree that from time to time the online reader comments on The Ledger website go far beyond the bounds of civil discourse or polite discussion. We plead with our fellow residents to be more judicious in their comments. As well, we suggest that The Ledger implement a system of moderated comments so that reader comments do not appear online until OK’d by a Ledger staff member to be consistent with its policy for printed letters to the editor, which states, “We won’t publish letters libelous or in poor taste …” There is already enough mean-spirited ill will in the world — let’s do our bit in Lewisboro to embrace a more level-headed approach to expressing our views.

Andrea Rendo, Republican Town Chair

Christina Rae and Alan Cole, Democratic Town Co-Chairs

Evelyn Kahlow, Conservative Town Chair

Feb. 12

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  • http://thefivelakesheron.com Robby Rothfeld

    I agree wholeheartedly with the letter from the leaders of our town political parties.
    And I would hope that in campaign season, they would all follow their own entreaties as expressed in their letter, and ask their supporters to do the same, i.e., to always campaign with complete honesty, genuine facts, no silly campaign charges against opponents, no rationalizing that “it’s politics, so it’s okay to bend the truth.”
    That said: As a Ledger columnist, I really don’t mind when someone takes a personal shot at me in the comments section. If one is going to go public, one needs a thick skin. It goes with the territory.
    But that’s not the point.
    The point indeed is about rational discussion in a public forum.
    I believe that many more readers would participate in the comments section if they knew they could do so without suffering personal attacks and nasty tirades, and having to wade through so much utter baloney (usually expressed anonymously, of course).
    I think many more readers would write letters to the editor if they knew they wouldn’t suffer personal attacks in the comments section.
    On a major national Web site–such as a cable news site–anonymous commenting is probably a good thing in terms of people feeling they are protected from retaliation by general nutcases.
    But here in a community newspaper, I believe that all comments should carry the real name of the commenter. That would go a long way in forcing people to be civil, and it would also foster genuine, rational, thoughtful conversation, instead of a series of shots, jabs, counter-jabs and wholly unsubstantiated claims.
    Our community can use a lot more open and honest exchanges of ideas.
    And the Ledger comments section could be a primary, robust forum for that process.
    I have made a general rule of not participating in the comments section because at this point, it seems to be mostly a waste of time. Why would I indeed take the time to respond to comments that are full of invective and phony facts, especially knowing that no matter how carefully I craft a rational response, I’m likely to just receive more nonsense in return?
    But if the comments section were moderated, and real names were attached to comments, I’d be happy to spend some time exchanging thoughts with readers re: the content of my columns.
    I urge the Ledger and Hersam Acorn management to begin a process of seriously moderating the comments section, and requiring people to use their real names.
    I offer my personal thanks to Andrea, Christina, Alan and Evelyn for taking the time to write such a thoughtful and important letter.
    And I’ll be watching in the weeks ahead to see if our local political parties conduct themselves within the standards their letter has proposed.

  • Briefing Book

    I applaud all three of these political apparatchiks for demonstrating to the town that there’s one thing politicians are really good at–telling other people what to say and how to say it.

    Let’s look at the record.

    Take a look back at the 2011 campaign and you’ll find all you need to know about how Andrea Rendo’s Republican Party thinks a civilized campaign should be conducted. Or were all those anonymous bloggers bashing The Ledger for its coverage really Democratic operatives?

    As for Democrat Leader Alan Cole, he not only wants to limit what people say and how they say it, he wants to limit how long they can say it for. Just take a look at his unconstitutional proposal telling the voters how long they can advertise for the candidates. It’s called the First Amendment, Alan, and you should read it some time.

    To each of you–please lose the sanctimonious patter. Because when October rolls around all three of your campaigns will be pulling out the rhetorical knives to gut each other, just as your campaigns do every election year.

    Warmest personal regards as always,

    Briefing Book

  • What about Rothefeld?

    Mr. Rothfeld, who is going to watch you? You have some nerve writing that reply considering your column is filled with personally devaluing commentaries. As a mainstream democrat your writings give us all a bad name.

  • sarah si

    Why should the Ledger police free speech? No one forces anyone to read the blogs and the comments. There should be a place to vent one’s feeling especially given the fact that there are irreconcilable differences between the conservatives and the liberals, in such matters as governance, taxation, school government. For example, the fact is that the people has been forced to pay high taxes for teachers’ salaries, while unemployment is rampant. The ranting and raving in the blogs seems harmless compared to the daily and actual suffering of property owners forced to abandon their homes, elderly owners facing financial ruins and scores of unemployed homeowners facing foreclosures.

  • nelly benito

    The blogs are needed because the Ledger restricts letters to 250 words. This is the only medium that has no restriction whatsoever, no limit. The Ledger gives preferential treatment to the Rothfelds of this world who can ramble on and on without any self-discipline, and forces the readers to swallow the headlines and opinions of the so-called guest writers whose columns are questionable, at most times dull and meaningless, and not deserving the ink and the paper on which they were printed …At least blogs writers and commentators are not deluding themselves in wallowing in self-importance and imposing their views on everyone.

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