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Posted: 10/24/2001 11:56:24 AM EDT
I'm planning on sending the letter in the next post to the editor of our local paper. They are pretty good about printing long letters, so I may be okay on that count. I'd appreciate any comments on ways to improve it. TIA - Steve
Link Posted: 10/24/2001 11:58:32 AM EDT
In the days since 9/11, the United States has wallowed in an ocean filled with doubtful responses to the attack. I am concerned that we are missing an important point. This point is illustrated by the incredible fact that three airliners filled with people were taken over and used as weapons by a few nut cases armed with nothing more complex than a small knife. With the exception of the aircraft that crashed in Pennsylvania, there is little evidence that anyone on these aircraft attempted to stop the terrorists. The actions of the people on the Pennsylvania plane were truly heroic – even more so because those actions flew in the face of much mainstream American thought. This thought is that it is the government’s responsibility to protect each and every one of us; all of the time, everywhere. The obvious truth is that government cannot do this. However, in our zeal to have the government do the impossible, we, as citizens have largely abrogated one of our greatest responsibilities -- the responsibility to protect our society through our own responsible action and preparedness. I’m not talking about putting on fatigues and going out into the woods here. I’m talking about a simple acceptance that a certain amount of your own safety, and the safety of society rests in your own hands. Obviously, not every octogenarian or infant is in a position to protect themselves or others effectively, but the vast majority of us are, if we have the will and the means to do so. Of course, in attempting the impossible, we have allowed, and in many cases supported an environment of prior restraint on our individual abilities to protect others and ourselves in a violent emergency. California law is a particularly good example of this. It’s illegal to carry a gun. It’s illegal to carry a knife with a blade over 4 inches long. It’s illegal even to own some weapons just based upon their appearance. None of this has anything to do with criminal action or intent. Indeed, criminals and terrorists care not a bit that they are violating these laws, but we have insisted upon them to help us feel safe, while in actuality we have made ourselves less so. With the inescapable fact now upon us that there are people in the world who want us dead just for being Americans, it is time to reevaluate our approach to safety. All of the new measures now in place for airline security, had they been in place before the attack would likely not have prevented them. So far, it seems that right up to the point that they took over the planes, the terrorists did nothing illegal. Believe me, if you’re going to take over a plane with a knife, there are lots of ways to get an improvised weapon on to the plane, even today. That said; you couldn’t take over a plane with a knife today. Not because of new security measures, but because your fellow passengers would beat the life out of you if you tried. In fact, some of the new security measures have made us less safe by denying the law abiding every conceivable means of self-defense other than our bodies. We must stop thinking in these old, worn out ruts. We’re Americans. We have nothing to fear from the overwhelming majority of our neighbors, be they Muslim, Christian or agnostic. If we do not rely on government alone to protect us, a truer form of safety will be gained. With this realization comes the hard truth that many of our laws are worse than useless, and should be changed.
Link Posted: 10/24/2001 12:42:56 PM EDT
I've had lots of success getting letters to the editor published. If you like, I will review your letter and send comments via e-mail. A couple things to remember about submitting to a newspaper: 1) The article or letter should resemble an inverted pyramid. This means the bulk of the information should be provided right at the beginning and tapers off to nothing. Don't save your best points for last because editors usually cut from the bottom up. 2) Since most people don't read past the first paragraph or two, it is essential to capture their attention right at the beginning. Anything long is probably not going to be read. Attention spans are quite limited. This is why most newspapers print big photographs. People would rather look at pictures than read text. 3) Bill O'Reilly advises his audience to send e-mails that are "short and pithy". Writers to the editor are advised to do the same. 4) When writing a letter to the editor, ask yourself, "What am I really trying to accomplish with my message." If it is just to let others know what you think, it's not going to fly very far. The best letters are informational; they fill in gaps in news coverage, or they bring points of view that are unique and worth consideration. 5) If your letter isn't published, don't despair. The big city dailies get tons of them and your chances of selection aren't good. Keep writing!
Link Posted: 10/24/2001 12:57:04 PM EDT
I was going to suggest a few changes, but I think The_Commissioner is right -- you need to focus your message and condense it down to no more than two paragraphs.
Link Posted: 10/25/2001 1:45:38 AM EDT
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