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A Good Letter to the Editor

I found a great example of a well-written letter to the editor.  It’s sharp, witty, plays off a kernel of truth with just a little exaggeration (but not too much!), and gets people thinking about the issue.

Unfortunately, it was submitted by an anti-gun activist.

That doesn’t mean we can’t learn from it.  If there are any readers in south Florida, a well-written response would likely get published.

12 Responses to “A Good Letter to the Editor”

  1. Robb Allen says:

    I can’t comment in the little tiny box provided. I can’t refute each and every lie there in the space allotted. And I’ve done it a hundred times before and will be doing it again as long as I live.

    Get’s frickin’ tiring after a while.

    The problem with these guys is that the kernel of truth is buried in a mound of horseshit so deep you need a 10 foot snorkel to find it.

    The NRA does not push for arming the populace as in “giving out guns to every last man, woman, child, and Brady Campaign Employee”, it simply pushes that anyone who wishes to arm themselves be able to do so with no interference from the Government. This is a far cry from arming 100% of the population.

    I’ve bookmarked this post. I’ll try to respond when I have more time.

    • Bitter says:

      I know there are lies, especially when it comes to the guns. But, I’m talking about this from a pure PR perspective. We may not like it, but at its roots as a LTE meant to get people fired up for political action, it’s very good. I would just make sure that our efforts focus on making sure people get fired up by it, but to advance gun rights rather than limit them.

  2. Wolfwood says:

    You’re right: it was clever, well-written, and not really unfair. At the same time, though, it overlooks an essential point: in none of the instances he mentioned were the victims armed. Let’s throw in the University of Texas, Appalachian School of Law, New Life Church in Colorado, and the Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva in Jerusalem. How does the balance sit now?

  3. Matt Groom says:

    I’ve written better diatribes than that piece of tripe whilst in the midst of a drunken stupor. A lie is a lie, and I found nothing within that editorial that was anything but falsehoods and paranoia. The entire premise of the letter is based on the falsehood that a world without firearms is “safe”.

    Safety is an illusion.

    The world has never, NEVER been safer than it is today, and it is a damn sight safer now that guns are plentiful than it was in the ages before firearms technology. People live longer, and it’s not just medical technology and advanced food production methods that’s to credit for that. It’s firearms technology. Governments are more aware of the will of the people, even if they still frequently choose to ignore it, they do so at their peril. They were not afraid of a bit of unpopularity before there were guns. Fewer people die in WARS because of advanced firearms technology. That’s because it takes fewer people to fight. All guns are descendants of military weapons, the word “Gun” is derived from the Germanic word for WAR. All guns are military weapons in a sense.

    Most of the NRA’s power is created by the irrational fear that the Left has of them, which is the same irrational fear that they have of arms, of personal responsibility, of religion, of Liberty, and of independent thinkers. The Left fears anything that they cannot control.

    Shame on you for complementing this fool. I don’t care that he used proper grammar and punctuation to spout off his idiotic lies, he is a coward and he is wiling to abdicate his freedom and duties to his family, his community, and country in order to free himself of the burden of Liberty. Screw that guy.

    • Bitter says:

      Honestly, if you can’t acknowledge when your political enemies are doing a good job, you’re going to lose the battle. Learn from what they do – evolve, adapt. The best part is that we have the truth on our side and not just emotion. A good activist will take the strengths of that letter and include them in a response.

      Here’s a tip: Calling your neighbors cowards is not typically a winning strategy. While you won’t change his mind, I can tell you that your style illustrated in this specific comment would turn otherwise neutral people against us. Learning to use a touch of emotion with our factual arguments is a good thing as long as that emotion isn’t anger. Flies, honey, vinegar…ring a bell?

  4. Tom says:

    Here is the comment I left in response to the anti’s letter:

    First, I’d like to know just HOW the NRA can “flood the country with obscenely powerful military weapons.”

    I’m pretty sure that the NRA is not licensed to import and sell any firearms, let alone “powerful military weapons.”

    Second, when it is finally legal to “…arm the students and teachers” and “…[l]et employees carry concealed weapons” and to have “…guns in all motor vehicles” and when I can “…[v]isit the [National] park with … family and friends fully armed,” Then, and ONLY THEN, will I feel safer.

  5. Guav says:

    I assume your description of the letter was sarcastic?

  6. Bitter says:

    Not at all, Guav. Remember, when you’re writing a LTE, you’re typically writing for one of two reasons: 1) motivate your base, or 2) convince neutral people to consider your position. His letter made his base (what little of it there is) nod in agreement and he made an uninformed neutral audience stop to think about his position. It served its purpose whether we like it or not. I’m suggesting that we learn from that and add in the facts that are on our side to do the same thing.

  7. Guav says:

    Point taken. I’d prefer our side of the debate remain more beholden to the facts though, just the same.

  8. Steve W says:

    Thanks for posting this! I put a response on my blog — anyone who wants to use a piece of it is certainly welcome:

    http://sensiblyprogressive.blogspot.com/2009/04/when-losing-debate-strawman-arguments.html

  9. Matt Groom says:

    Bitter,
    Many times in my life I have heard the argument that rational arguments will persuade irrational people to surrender their beliefs which are based neither in fact, nor in reasonable emotional concern. I have always found this to be a waste of time. Ideas can be changed, beliefs cannot.

    Whatever force compelled this person to write a letter to the editor bemoaning the ease at which his fellow citizens can exercise their civil rights is not something that based on logic, and not something that will be undone be kind words and reasonable counter-arguments. That’s why we still have Socialists in the world. Fact holds no sway on belief, and belief is based on emotion, not logic. You yourself concede that his entire argument is based on emotion. That emotion is the most irrational of all, fear. Fear is only bested by greater fears.

    I tender my arguments with emotion, but that emotion is not anger. IT IS HATRED. I HATE these people. Is is not Liable, nor Slander if it is true. A person who refuses to exercise their duties as an adult, as a Citizen, as a human being because of fear is a coward. Denying the legitimacy of someone else’s civil rights because you yourself choose not to exercise that right is the worst kind of evil, because therein lies the strongest chain which binds us to tyranny. They seek to make themselves less free so that they can be free of personal responsibility, but they can only do this by denying MY children their natural rights, and therefore, they are worthy of disgust.

    Reasonable people who are undecided may be convinced by your niceties and gentle persuasion, but those people don’t write letters to the editor to try to convince others of their positions. As for vinegar and honey attracting flies, I’d rather live a life as free of flies as possible.

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