Let’s elevate the discussion, letter writers

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Merry Christmas, opinion page readers and writers.

This holiday season we’re imparting a small gift to each of you.

While upholding your First Amendment rights to free speech, we’re going to exercise our right to tone down the derogatory, demeaning rhetoric a bit.

What do we mean by that? Well, just this week we received a couple of letters to the editor that pushed us to the point of saying, Enough.

“I have a suggestion for Democratic Party candidates,” one of them opens. “If you want to win an election, move back to California. They love left-wing loons.”

On fact alone the letter misses the mark. Have you bothered to look at all the Californians moving to North Idaho the past few years? How many of them are left-wing liberals? We have met hundreds and appreciate them as neighbors and community contributors, but with very, very few exceptions, they’re conservatives. Is that who the letter writer wants to move “back” to California?

More to the point, the name-calling is getting really wearisome. “Loons” is short for “lunatics.” Because someone disagrees with the letter writer, that makes them insane?

Another letter that you’ll not see on this page again spews poison toward those of the opposite political persuasion. The writer refers to “border-line retard Maxine Waters.” ‘Nuff said. In fact, more than ‘nuff said.

We’re determined to not neuter strongly worded missives on this page, and we acknowledge that there are bitter feelings on both sides of the aisle about what’s happening on the political frontier. But let’s find a way to express ourselves without calling those who see things differently “loons,” “retards” or — this one has made it into print a couple of times — “evil.” Criminals who commit heinous acts might be called evil, but citizens who disagree with your perspectives aren’t headed to hell simply because you think you have the master key to heaven.

So keep those cards and letters comin’ in, writers, but if we may be so bold as to make a holiday suggestion, it’s that your brain starts with one word before you begin writing.

Respect.

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