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  • Writer's pictureTrevor Greenway

Thoughtful debate alive and well

If you want to know what healthy public discourse looks like, log off Facebook and turn to pages 5-6 of our last issue (March 29 edition).

The pages are full of reader’s letters – some that couldn’t even fit – on various issues, from short-term rentals in Chelsea to the future of the Wakefield community centre and its past problems.

Many readers disagreed with this editor’s take on how to fix the ongoing issues at the Wakefield centre — some even described the opinion piece as taking “sensationalist potshots” at local, dedicated volunteers. While we believe our reporting was fair, it’s equally as fair for readers to feel differently. And that should be celebrated. This editor took several calls from concerned citizens, who said they felt the article wasn’t helpful in the centre’s ongoing push to find success within its community cooperative model. We disagreed on certain things; we agreed on others, but the most important part of these conversations was that they were thoughtful, civil and respectful.

Similar attempts to debate issues on social media have spiraled down to personal attacks and borderline, online harassment, with the issue at hand not really being debated at all.

Letter writers need to be praised for taking quality time out of their day to sit down and intentionally write thoughtful, well-argued points they feel strongly about. It’s much easier to whip out your iPhone and troll someone online for saying something you disagree with. But for an issue you want to address, writing a letter in the newspaper – with your name and location attached to it – takes guts, courage and passion. This is the healthiest thing for a newspaper and for a community.

If healthy public debate can’t take place face to face, this is where it should happen — on the pages of our newspaper and not online. Our letters are vetted, monitored and don’t allow for a chain of trolls to say nasty things under fake names that they can later delete. What makes letters to the editor so impactful is that they aren’t knee-jerk reactions like you get on Twitter or Facebook. These thoughtful arguments are proof that letter writers are taking the time to understand an issue before offering an opinion.

Whoever says that public debate is dead needs to pick up a copy of the Low Down.

The Low Down keeps politicians, cops and those in positions of authority in check, but it’s you who keep us in check every week. Like the New York Times, we print “all the news that’s fit to print,” and that includes your fiery letters. Keep ‘em coming.


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