High Programmer > Blog Archive > Righteous Outrage
Thursday, April 29, 2004

Righteous Outrage

Something I read in the paper got my blood boiling, so I wrote a letter to the editor.

I never anticipated becoming the sort of person who writes angry letters to the editor. I might as well camp out on my porch and yell at the neighborhood kids to get off my damn lawn.

The Letter to the Editor is an interesting format. The Wisconsin State Journal asks for letters shorter than 300 words. While it's always frustrating to have to delete ones brilliant prose, the enforced brevity does encourage one to get right to the point. As the master says, "Omit needless words." The biggest flaw with the original editorial I replied to was that it wasted most of its 490 words on cheap insults.

Several friends who saw the article suggested that I should have addressed a few related issues. Sure, it would have been nice, but it wasn't practical. If you try to address multiple issues you end up rambling and without any space to back up your point. It's the print equivalent of this idiots who call in to talk shows and ramble a laundry list of attacks at the guest. Because they provide no details the guest can hand-wave them away with the flimsiest of excuses. You end up actually doing your argument harm; you've looked sloppy and the other side looks wise.

Contact webmaster