I had another one of those communications this past week. I received a fax from a guy who in all seriousness inquired where we at Numismatic News were coming up with what passed as letters to the editor.
He cited what he thought was a most ludicrous example of a letter he thought shouldn’t be published.
Ah, he asked me such an easy question. Whatever you might think about any given letter to the editor, or its writer, there are two facts that are paramount for me. The first is that the letter does indeed come from a reader. The second is my firm belief that a reader has every right to express himself.
Of course, personal expression is limited by libel laws, but what I have found in over 30 years as a newspaper editor is that the bounds of law seldom must be invoked. Readers are a pretty level headed bunch who offer opinions on all sorts of topics. Some topics are lofty. Some are silly. Nearly all readers know the difference and learn from them or laugh with them as the occasion warrants.
Over time, the picture that emerges is what a remarkably lively hobby we have and what interesting topics we choose to reflect upon from time to time.
Letters to the editor reflect the lives of the readers. As long as they do, they will keep being read and I will continue to get the occasional fax demanding to know where I find them.