To be (bold) or not to be
"Our (perhaps naïve) thinking continues to be that respectful people can agree to disagree..."
It is usual and conventional for magazines to feature an Editor’s Letter at the front, usually highlighting what is inside—and (we find) often boring.
It has always been our view that if you have the privilege (and the responsibility) of speaking to half a million people, then you probably should have something to say. We decided early in the life of this publication that we would try to do that—to make people think, to generate and stimulate conversation and an exchange of ideas and opinions. It is always useful to be exposed to the views, experience and knowledge of others. We consider that function to be an important element of what we do—part of the service if you will.
And we are pleased to report that our Publishers’ Pencil columns often do generate quite a bit of feedback from readers, which is unusual in the industry—but we are never quite sure what to expect, so there can be some nail biting.
The last issue was particularly noteworthy. You might recall we discussed how the new (and sometimes extreme these days) political correctness protocols are often at odds with the warm, laid-back culture of this region (and we neglected to acknowledge other regions as well, southern Alberta and rural Quebec for instance).
We have published a sampling of letters inside—all mostly supportive. Those were the thoughtful, formal letters from readers. There were no contrary letters from regular readers approved for publication by the writer.
But from social network sources we received some startlingly negative responses. Not a single one was even remotely polite. That was a completely new experience for us: even when people disagree, they are usually courteous. We do not publish verbally abusive tweets. (The irony was rather self-evident—political correctness, it seems, is not extended to those who have the gall to disagree with you.)
Our (perhaps naïve) thinking continues to be that respectful people can agree to disagree, perhaps even enjoy and learn from the discourse, and remain friends.
But the one that is really perplexing is the odd person who takes the view that “you said something I happen to disagree with, so I’m cancelling my subscription to punish you”. We just can’t get our heads around that one.
We’ve been in this business for decades. We fully understand and appreciate that as soon as you venture an opinion publicly you paint a target on your own back—and we accept that, and we have grown a thick skin over the years.
But the alternative is to be bland…
Do you really want that?
~ Linda & Jim Gourlay