miao town newspaper

I have tried to improve my generally ambivalent attitude towards Miao Town since I am a resident for the time being and apparently stuck here. It’s a nice town. I tell myself this every time I bike to work down the pretty little streets with their potholes and maple canopies. Maybe one day I will truly believe it, but hopefully by then I will be living happily elsewhere.

But this post/rant is not about the town, it’s about the town’s paper which is currently owned by some big huge newspaper corporation, so it’s hard to think of it as a small town paper. There is a letters section that I read only because Papa Miao gets the paper and it’s there. At least a couple times a month, they publish what amounts to hate mail – run-of-the-mill anti-Muslim, anti-gay, anti-liberal, anti-everything-they’re-not bigoted garbage that betrays utter ignorance of current events and grammatical principles. Perfect grammar isn’t necessary for public discourse, but this stuff is stream of consciousness, borderline incoherent lunacy. Oh, and apparently we’re still caught in the cold war with “Red China” and our sacred institutions are even now being infiltrated by Russian communists. Or maybe the writers’ point is that the communists won because their clever plotting of decades past has finally led to the decay of American/Christian society (because the two are synonymous). Their nonsensical grammar makes these letters farcical. Perhaps someone at the newspaper thinks printing them is a big joke, but the sentiments they express are scary. I may laugh, but inwardly I’m thinking, people in this town really think that?

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13 Responses to miao town newspaper

  1. Well, consider the source: people with lives don’t usually have the time to write a full-blown letter to the editor of the daily newspaper. When I worked for a newspaper—not in a small town either, but in a fairly large city in the upper Midwest—I discovered that most of the people who wrote in were retirees and loners, people who had a lot of time on their hands and who often weren’t very grounded in reality. I’ve sometimes thought about writing to the editor myself after reading an especially nasty or bigoted letter, but then I think of my experience, and shrug it off. Sadly however, it’s gotten to where I don’t read my hometown newspaper anymore, or I avoid the Opinion page like it was a virus. I’ll skim the “B” section for news about local services and events, and about the city library, which I volunteer at and which we’re afraid is going to shut down with all the budget cuts; but I get most of my news from the internet and Public Radio, because at least it has a broader perspective. I don’t want to know what the little old minds think here.

    I am sorry you’re not thrilled with miao town. Here’s hoping you will be able to look back someday and laugh at it.

    • littlemiao says:

      I suspect you’re right about the demographics of the letter writers.

      A couple years ago I actually made the mistake of writing a letter to the paper. I wasn’t even living here, but my father, knowing that it would get me going, read a particularly bad one over the phone. So I wrote something at midnight, in the heat of the moment, while procrastinating a school project. Looking back at the letter I am slightly embarrassed – I should have moderated my tone and been a little more subtle, especially given the point I was trying to make. Oh well. But I ended by saying that I was disappointed in the paper for printing so much incendiary, hate-mongering crap (maybe I used a different word) and calling for more civil discourse in the letters section. Over the next week there were a few other letters expressing agreement with me about the general tone of the letters section (but no one spelled my name right), and the editors ended up writing a column about their “standards” – basically saying that they print whatever they receive but they reserve the right not to. So nothing really changed. I refuse to write any more letters, but each time I read a particularly nasty one my resolve weakens just a little.

    • When I was in 8th grade, we had a class assignment to write a letter to the editor (mine got published, along with some others). A fair amount of students from elementary through college write to the paper as well. There are always the weird rants though. People. What are you going to do with them?

  2. Lauri says:

    I do feel that what HG says about people with closed in lives..probably listening to one fanatical radio talk show or wacked out tv station are the ones more likely to write in with awful stuff like that.
    When I hear/read about the crazies constantly I yearn for some stories about open minded rational people….but those don’t make press, so I have to constantly remind myself that we are not TOTALLY surrounded by hatefilled loonies….just by the stories of them. (I hope!)

    • littlemiao says:

      I hope you’re right! But I know you are. You have to be.

      Miao Town is not such a bad place, really (I hope), especially compared to everything else in a hundred-mile radius. I know lots of nice people in this town, and they probably don’t read the paper.

  3. AuntieBellum says:

    And unfortunately people like that reflect badly on all of us who consider outselves to stand on the more conservative side of the spectrum.

    If it’s any consolation (and I grant this isn’t necessarily a good thing), here in the “big city” newspaper, there are bigoted ignoramuses on both extremes.

    • littlemiao says:

      *sigh* So maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on the paper here because it’s just following national trends… But why can’t semi-literate rants by crazy people be limited to the internet? I expect to find them there, but not in the local paper. Where is their editorial discretion? There are articulate, non-crazy conservatives who write letters to the paper too, so it’s not like the letters section would lack representation of different viewpoints if they decided to set their standards a little higher and not print hateful trash.

      I would be equally, if not more, upset if someone sharing my views wrote letters like these because I certainly would not want someone so obviously unhinged to claim to be speaking for me.

      • AuntieBellum says:

        Well, I meant on the internet forum. I don’t take the print version, so they may have better discretion on what they choose to print. And call me cynical, but I do believe that a lot of the media has a liberal bent, and I wouldn’t put it past some of them to print crap like this expressly to discredit the conservative side.

        • littlemiao says:

          I must admit that I’ve wondered the same thing. I distrust the motives of whoever prints these letters. They’re not fit to print. Maybe the editors are just simply clueless, or maybe the writers complain when their letters don’t get printed. But no one with a sane mind and basic education in the English language would want their name signed to these letters.

          But then I look online and see that five out of six commenters agree with them. Gosh, this is so pathetic, stalking my local paper online. I’ve really got to stop.

          • AuntieBellum says:

            For some reason, internet forums, especially ones that aren’t moderated very strictly, tend to attract the more trollish types. Which is why I automatically discount the views of at least a quarter of most commenters, just because I’m fairly sure they have no real opinion on the matter and are just posting to be assholes.

  4. doranyc says:

    When I moved to NYC I thought I was getting away from that small minded garbage. Not so much. It’s everywhere!! Especially in the papers, unfortunately.

  5. Lauri says:

    I have a hilarious story from a friend of mine at work today. I’ll post it, but I’m going to make it private so search engines can’t find it.

  6. e2thec says:

    it sounds just like the newspaper in my small town, little m….

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