I am still sorting through my thoughts and experiences from my trip to the World Money Fair in Berlin, Germany. Going back to the Hotel Estrel one night by a specially arranged bus from a welcome dinner, my group started from the Brandenburg Gate and passed Checkpoint Charlie, which had been a famous entry point into East Germany during the Cold War until the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 and East Germany was reunited with West Germany in 1990.
There is a museum near the little hut in a block of buildings. The hut, which was Checkpoint Charlie, stands in the middle of the street. The museum has the old seal of East Germany on it. I was sitting behind a group of Russians who were pointing to it and talking. I don?t know what they were saying, but the conversation was animated and I heard ?Amerikanski? a couple of times.
I am glad Berlin is now free and no longer divided. I am glad I did not see Checkpoint Charlie when it was serving its sinister purposes. I am sure my readers can tell me some interesting stories about their experiences during the Cold War. It is also nice that those who might have been enemies are now joined in common numismatic purposes and sharing meals together at international shows.
What Checkpoint Charlie stood for is the opposite of the the kind of society we have in the United States.
Occasionally, I get a letter or an e-mail that seems to imply that I operate a Checkpoint Charlie in the Letters section.
?Once again you allow some low-life to express his political views? begins the most recent one.
My job as editor is not equivalent to official censor, though I do prevent some things from being published. While collectors share many common opinions, they also have many differences. I don?t agree with everything that appears in the Letters section. My agreement is not a criterion for a letter making it into print.
To have a useful and interesting Letters section, the freedom of the readers to express themselves should be respected as much as possible. We don?t publish libelous letters or letters wildly off topic.
That offers pretty broad latitude for nearly all Numismatic News readers to make their points in their own way and in their own words.
I would have been happy to print a letter expressing the view of this particular writer, but unfortunately his text veered off into what can be described only as racial bigotry.
Now I understand that the reader who wrote this is unhappy with me. He didn?t like a letter that appeared. It is his right to disagree with it and to write a response putting that disagreement into words for others to read.
If it pleases him, he can also write that I don?t know what I am doing. That is an evaluation that every reader makes with every issue.
The Letters section offers a window into what hobbyists from every walk of life are thinking and doing. Readers know when the editor is being heavy-handed or unfair. I always strive to keep the expression of opinions as free and as interesting as humanly possible.