Newspaper Editor Says He Won’t Publish Letters from Climate Change Deniers Because They’re Factually Inaccurate

The letters-to-the-editor page of any newspaper tends to be filled with kooks of all stripes, but the Los Angeles Times refuses to print letters with demonstrable lies, as one of its editors explained over the weekend:

Regular readers of The Times’ Opinion pages will know that, among the few letters published over the last week that have blamed the Democrats for the government shutdown (a preponderance faulted House Republicans), none made the argument about Congress exempting itself from Obamacare.

Why? Simply put, this objection to the president’s healthcare law is based on a falsehood, and letters that have an untrue basis (for example, ones that say there’s no sign humans have caused climate change) do not get printed.

They won’t print things that aren’t true?! As you would expect, conservative bloggers weren’t taking the news so well:

So letters to the editor “that say there’s no sign humans have caused climate change…do not get printed.”

That’s quite a statement coming from an editorial writer not named Al Gore.

The letters editor, Paul Thornton, responded to that change the other day:

… when deciding which letters should run among hundreds on such weighty matters as climate change, I must rely on the experts — in other words, those scientists with advanced degrees who undertake tedious research and rigorous peer review.

Simply put, I do my best to keep errors of fact off the letters page; when one does run, a correction is published. Saying “there’s no sign humans have caused climate change” is not stating an opinion, it’s asserting a factual inaccuracy.


That’s… exactly what newspapers ought to be doing when people lie. If they’re letter writers, don’t give them the privilege of being in the paper. (And if they’re public figures, I hope the writers call them out on their lies.)

When you don’t do that, you lose credibility.

But that brings up another point: Does the newspaper do the same thing when it comes to letter writers who promote Creationism? Claim to have witnessed a miracle? Talk about the power of psychics? What about those who advocate this idea that we’re a “Christian nation”? Or that atheists are waging a “war on Christmas”? Or that there are “no atheists in foxholes”? Which “statements of fact” are allowed to slip through? Which ones belong in the same boat as climate change deniers?

We never get an answer to that. Still, it’s worth keeping an eye on if you read the LA Times regularly.

(Image via Shutterstock — via Romenesko)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • C Peterson

    If people are frustrated that they can’t get published in the LA Times anymore, they can always try the Colorado Springs Gazette. Its letters and editorial pages are largely devoted to factually untrue material.

    (And kudos to the LA Times. Its editor is doing just what he should. Letters should reflect a range of opinion, but the section shouldn’t be a free-for-all. There actually are things called “facts” which are understood as true beyond any reasonable doubt.)

  • eric

    That’s… exactly what newspapers ought to be doing when people lie.

    Meh. These are letters to the editor. Probably the one place in the paper where it’s perfectly okay to let the author make a fool of him/herself, because it won’t reflect on the paper or the editors. In fact its arguably the one place where you want to publish letters that are fairly representative of what you get as input, rather than what you (the editorial staff) think is true. You get 50% climate deniers and you have inches for two letters, publish a denial one – it shows other readers how readers responded to your article.
    That section is kinda like the comments section on a blog post. I don’t think it really helps ‘the truth’ to edit those for content, either. To stop trolls, make the page kid-friendly, yeah I can see eliminating posts for those reasons. But not because a commenter is factually wrong.
    The sky is pink with purple polka-dots. Are you now going to implement the policy you’ve just supported, Hemant?

    • C Peterson

      IMO the letters section does reflect on the newspaper. Certainly, for a large paper, there are many more letters submitted than can be printed. A good editor will at least filter for basic quality- literacy, factual accuracy, etc- in whittling down the choices.

    • Jeff

      Well, I don’t know if you saw Popular Science’s new approach to comments posted to their articles, but they no longer accept them. Seems a couple of well designed studies demonstrated that factually incorrect comments, comments that were personally derogatory, trolls, etc, wound up getting people to harden their beliefs, especially if the belief was not factual. So, the responses to the blogs actually caused a factual, evidence based idea to be discredited by a few individuals rather than promoting an open dialog. So, they turned off all comments. Those who were trolls, or had an agenda, or disputed with concepts such as “the bible says different” don’t get a forum at all.

    • Stev84

      I don’t really have a high opinion of newspapers that have lots of crazy people writing letters to them and getting them published.

      • 3lemenope

        In that case, this sentence functions equally well: “I don’t really have a high opinion of newspapers.”

  • Richard Wade

    Good for the L.A. Times. Hopefully this groundbreaking, revolutionary idea of demanding factual accuracy will spread from the Letters to the Editor section to the entire paper, and maybe even beyond the Times to other periodicals, such as…
    TIME Magazine …?

    Funny how you never see Joe Klein demanding factual accuracy in his own writing.

    • 3lemenope

      People don’t often know when their own beliefs about factual matters are erroneous. A policy of simply not publishing those factual errors does not in any way advance the major public purpose of newspapers, which is to be a public forum. People’s arguments about issues are improved by them being tested in the wild. When one person makes errors, another has the opportunity to point them out and so improve both the opponent’s information and also the conversation generally. Attempts to tamp down on factual errors in such fora tend only to create a race-to-the-bottom situation where only pure opinion pieces survive, and no facts are ever exchanged, tested, or challenged.

      What particularly gets lost in attempting to police factuality is that you lose an understanding of what arguments your opponents actually listen to. You lose an understanding of what your opponents actually believe. How are you supposed to argue against or convince anyone of anything if you have no idea how they view the world now? What they hold as true? It seems an absurd handicap to impose simply in the name of information sanitation.

      I think folks also dramatically overestimate the solidity of the factual content of their own assertions. We, all of us, even if very careful and scrupulous, “know” far more than is actually true. Many of our models of the world in many areas are, if we’re lucky, simple abstractions that occasionally get us in the ballpark. Very few people who opine on politics, for example, know a damn thing about politics, but everyone has a vague notion how things get done and who should be blamed when they stop being done properly. Rarely are these assignments of responsibility on-target or reflect any sense of how the political system works. The conversation must still occur, and it needs to occur without people trying to police who has the most factual content at their disposal, since there is no neutral arbiter available.

      • Andy Anderson

        What, are letters to the editor sections of newspapers the only possible venue for these discussions?

        • 3lemenope

          Every medium has strengths and weaknesses for different sorts of social communication. Newspapers are part of that ecology, and a part I might add that was explicitly envisioned as part of the civil society framework when the foundation of US government was erected. Chesterton’s Fence, and all that.

          If you believe that other media, such as TV talk shows and blogs, are a sufficient and complete substitute for what newspapers provide, it might be reasonable to shrug. I do not share that belief.

      • elissaf

        The public purpose of newspapers is to inform, NOT to provide an open forum to the uninformed or just plain wrong. (David Duke tried to sue the NY Times when they wouldn’t sell him ad space for a racist message. SCOTUS decided that the First Amendment does not guarantee you a soapbox from which to speak.)

        If you simply provide a forum, the story that gets told is that which has a majority telling it, whether they are right, or whether the crackpots called their thousands of crackpot followers.

        • 3lemenope

          The public purpose of newspapers is to inform, NOT to provide an open forum to the uninformed or just plain wrong.

          Well, when you put it like that.

          No, but seriously, merely asserting things as fact doesn’t do it. It doesn’t do it for you, or for me, or quite relevantly for newspapers. I don’t know how you think the epistemology of news works, but whatever it is it certainly isn’t is a string of incontrovertible facts delivered by neutral arbiters. It’s a narrative designed, as I mentioned elsewhere on the thread, to convey a primary impression of events, i.e. the “news”. Once that occurs, some people (very wrongfully) think that that is the end of the story instead of the beginning. Narratives only are able to convey complex truths when they are matured, and they are matured by people taking ownership of them through discussion so they make sense of them and place the events into an understandable framework.

          Part of that process is tolerating the speech of cranks. Part of making that toleration not meaningless is actually including all available interested voices. The way free societies process news is far messier than science, which I suspect lurks behind the expectations that many people have for their standards for putatively truth-bearing social institutions. They are the wrong expectations to have for the news.

    • Jennifer

      That last line made me burst out laughing. Thanks Richard!

    • wmdkitty

      Funny how these Joe Klein jokes just seem to write themselves.

      (And they’ll never be not-funny.)

  • Michael Davis

    Uncertain what climate change has to do with atheism. I’m not here to be preached at about what I should believe. One less follower.

    • Gus

      Classic. Well done. Everyone knows that “one less follower” strikes fear in the hearts of bloggers everywhere.

      • UWIR

        And annoyance in grammarians.

    • Jeff

      So, that was your post saying you were going to unlike us? And it does pertain to this blog because the common thread of facts. Can you present facts that dispute the science that exists? Please, do so. It would be no different asking you to present facts of your god’s existence if you were a believer.

    • EdmondWherever

      You didn’t come to read an article about factual inaccuracies to be preached about factual accuracy?

    • C Peterson

      Climate change has nothing to do with atheism. But it is of interest to many atheists for several reasons. Climate change denial, and all forms of science denial, overlap with types of reasoning failure that occur in religionists. Also, there is a large segment of climate change denial that is based on religious philosophy, not science. It becomes a tangible example of actual societal harm produced by religion.

    • Holytape

      Atheism and Climate change are both evidence-based.

    • momtarkle

      Shh! Quiet, guys. Michael is watching.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        Not anymore, he’s not!

        *takes off pants and twirls them around head*

    • God’s Starship

      Not interested in preaching to you or particularly care if you continue to read the blogs I read. But climate change is something you should probably believe in if you want to be taken seriously outside of the far right crazy sites.

    • Mario Strada

      Didn’t someone just recently chastised this very blog for always talking about Atheism?

      • Rich Wilson

        Come to think of it, it’s been a very long time since anyone has complained about too much gay.

    • YankeeCynic

      I think the business mogul William Wonka said it best:

    • Rich Wilson

      Oh, so you’re in a group strongly correlated with Creationists and Evangelicals? Careful you don’t get any fleas.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Climate Change denialism is grounded entirely in religious belief. It was made up by fundamentalists on the premise that they wanted more money and bigger cars and progressives must always be wrong, because otherwise they’d lose votes only God could do anything noticeable to the environment.

    • Alex Harman

      Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.

  • The Other Weirdo

    I dunno. I don’t like the idea of driving these retards underground. Their insanity should be out in public for all to see and mock. That way we can keep an eye on them.

    • Spuddie

      I have no problem with it. The more they are in the mainstream, the more they give the appearance of legitimacy. The easier it is to lie in public and get away with it.

      If you are being driven away because of blatant factual inaccuracy or outright mendacity, it helps credibility of everyone else who doesn’t do such things.

      • The Other Weirdo

        But I am not talking credibility. Some opinions are so blatantly wrong that they have to be out in public. Else how would we see evidence of it?

        • C Peterson

          I haven’t yet seen an example of an idea so wrong or crazy that, in a public forum, it doesn’t convince people. Just look around our society today!

        • Spuddie

          Not everyone has an eye towards ridicule. Crazies have a habit of connecting with other crazies.

          Some things are not worth debating because debate implies an equality of position which would not normally exist.

          • 3lemenope

            How exactly does one correct an error if one is unaware of its existence, never mind its details? This is the part I’m not understanding. Obviously the memes people seek to fight by sanitizing information streams are tenacious enough and virulent enough to spread and become endemic in large swaths of the community anyway, so I’m not sure what containment in mass media markets is supposed to accomplish besides isolate and make less mutually comprehensible two groups of people.

            • Spuddie

              A lie is much easier to spread than its correction.

              All I am saying is there is no benefit in publishing something you know to be incorrect (possibly even intentionally so). Sanitizing information implies leaving stuff out which constitutes actual factual information. Weeding out fabrications, misstatements and exaggeration is simply editing for credibility’s sake. There is no actual information to be found there except about the mindset of the person spreading it.

              • 3lemenope

                A lie is much easier to spread than its correction.

                If framed in that way, sure. It’s the same reason why theists have a hard time getting their head around the concept of atheism. Humans discount the negation of a thing against the assertion of the thing, because humans intuitively use asymmetrical concepts for negation, leading to phenomena like the Knobe effect, for example.

                On the other hand, non truth-tracking beliefs have no inherent advantage over truth-tracking beliefs in spreading. Conversely, truth-tracking beliefs have an important advantage: when anyone bothers to check a given belief against available facts, the truth-tracking belief will usually fare much better than beliefs that don’t. It’s one of the most important reasons why on the long-term trend, despite all the many things we rightfully complain about on the margins, science’s star is always rising and religion’s is falling.

                All I am saying is there is no benefit in publishing something you know to be incorrect (possibly even intentionally so)

                And this claim is what I’m objecting to. Knowingly publishing a letter to the editor that contains errors of fact has many purposes, some of which I’ve already mentioned.

                1. It’s hard to argue against arguments that aren’t presented; if the arguments have currency among communities already, denying them space isn’t preventing their spread, but is preventing their proper confrontation. If I don’t know in what ways people are mistaken, how could I possibly correct the mistake?

                2. Arguments can and have been displaced through rigorous debate; as I mentioned, such debates have gotten creationists to disown their worst arguments, and successfully convinced a harmful organization to stop trying to de-gay people. That’s the tip of the iceburg.

                3. It’s hard to point to the current state of people’s belief if there is no ready evidence that people “actually” believe said things. Especially if you’re lucky enough not to live in crazyville, it is hard to understand what people in crazyville actually think if they don’t have a platform that reaches your eyes/ears, and so it is concomitantly hard to convince people that the crazy beliefs are a real concern as opposed to a cute eccentricity held by an insignificant fringe.

                4. There are no neutral arbiters for facts, and so by arrogating the the role any runner of such a forum is unnecessarily damaging their credibility with people who feel they can’t get their side aired. The folks so aggrieved will simply take their ball and go to a place where the game is more to their liking. This impoverishes the whole ground. When right wingers run to FOX and left wingers to MSNBC, everyone left behind is left the worse for it.

                5. The fundamental public purpose of newspapers–why they have a role beyond being for-profit businesses and enjoy fundamental protections, some written into the very charter of US law–is to provide a public forum that has wide accessibility and where novel viewpoints can be encountered. A gatekeeper that checks for facts, regardless of how well-intentioned or scrupulous, is antithetical to that purpose. Newspapers are not science journals, should not act like them, should not be treated like them. They are literally conveyors of a first impression, i.e. “the news”, and act as a forum for talking about that news.

                • Spuddie

                  I have no problem with publishing opinions and beliefs. That is what editorials are for.

                  To be honest I agree with all your points except #4.

                  There are such things as credible sources and objectively reliable and corroborated facts. The big problem is when people forgo these or sacrifice verification for speed in getting something out there or calculated spin.

                  The problem with partisan news sources is that there really is only one which makes such a claim, FOX. Its not that MSNBC or others are liberals its that FOX is so far into the realm of propagandizing and distortion for partisan effect that anyone looks like a left winger in comparison. The idea of mass media reaching a wide audience is going away with market fragmentation. As long as there is money to be made by willful distortion and lying, it will be made. It doesn’t mean we have to condone it as a society.

                • 3lemenope

                  What I meant by #4 (and I wasn’t clear) was that there are no universally recognized neutral arbiters of fact. Given that, it is difficult to ask as a prerequisite for access to the public forum at all that one’s facts be vetted by what one considers a ideologically hostile and biased judge. For example, it’s smarmy rhetoric along the lines of “reality has a liberal bias” that makes me outright sympathize with non-liberal folks who don’t believe, I think in many contexts correctly, that their ideas and opinions will get a fair shake and if attested by facts that those facts will be properly recognized and respected as facts.

                  Given those conditions, people will retreat to ideologically friendly territory, where not much space is available to properly challenge, correct, and improve upon the prevailing notions, and their position is no longer available for that treatment in truly public fora.

                • Spuddie

                  I think there are clear distinctions between belief and facts. Beliefs should always be given free reign. The problem comes when people confuse the two. It is the role of a public forum to make these distinctions. Those who work with a responsibility to inform, should at least do some minimal work as a factual gatekeeper.

                  “Given those conditions, people will retreat to ideologically friendly territory”

                  I think people do that anyway many times because it is expedient to do so and there are strong incentives for doing so (a sense of community). The nature of our media makes this a foregone conclusion. In an effort to grab a fractured divided market, you have to specialize to some degree. Make a limited appeal to an increasingly limited audience.

                • LJinFLA

                  Beliefs given free reign? Well…no. Some beliefs are to immoral even for me to give them free reign. For instance some believe stoning women is ok. Cutting off ones head is ok, killing or reeducating gays is ok. Having sex with children…. etc. And I think you get the point. Facts have absolutely NOTHING to do with beliefs.

                  So who would decide which beliefs would be ok to publish, blah, blah, blah…slippery road and all.

                  There are some beliefs so far out there that we should never give it free reign. In fact, I would be all for putting some of those beliefs in prison so they could not harm others with their “beliefs”.

                • Spuddie

                  And you want thejob of evaluating the moral content of an opinion column? How magnanimous of you. Free speech is free speech. We do not criminalize thoughts or opinions. The only exceptions I can see is dishonest speech, defamation, direct and immediately credible threats and “fighting words”

    • Stev84

      That only works if publishing stupid comments actually had any negative consequences in their lives. But it doesn’t. Getting a platform just validates them.

      • The Other Weirdo

        I am not convinced. It also gives other people a chance to respond when they wouldn’t otherwise.

        • 3lemenope

          I’d have a heckuva hard time convincing my colleagues and friends that there are actually people out there in America who believe some incredibly crazy shit if it weren’t well-attested in the media.

          Think of any conversation that starts “Well, they couldn’t really believe that, could they?” It’s nice to be able to provide a convincing answer to that question.

          • Captain Cassidy

            Well, at least the United States excels in demonstrating to foreigners the astonishing capacity of humans to believe damn near anything.

            • C.L. Honeycutt

              WERE NUMBER #1!!!!!!11!

          • C.L. Honeycutt

            I agree with one caveat: that they shouldn’t get equal time, or even a vague approximation. These people need to be examples only, for the reason I stated just above.

            • 3lemenope

              I’m definitely fine with that. All the purposes I’m talking about such a letter-to-the-editor meeting are met easily by one such example; no need for a cavalcade. I don’t think newspapers have to accept, say, a hundred letters that all have the same error. The cool part about having a cultivated space is that newspapers have the freedom to air bad non-fact-based beliefs to be eviscerated without flooding the whole forum with the same wrongness.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          I’ve been in this situation with a couple of newspapers. What happens in practice is that the conspiracy theorists and fascists get emboldened, actively band together online, and flood the paper AND the forums. The normal people don’t have the free time to take them all down every two weeks/fifteen times a day, especially since the slimeballs are all Gish Gallopers as well.

    • Rich Wilson

      Why do people insist on insulting people with Trisomy 21? People with Trisomy 21 don’t deserve that. Can’t we pick appropriate insults?

      • FaithIsGlorifiedDelusion

        The only one here who equated retardation with Down Syndrome? C’est toi!

        • Rich Wilson

          Riiiiight- that equation never existed…

          • FaithIsGlorifiedDelusion

            Don’t play daft. The Other Weirdo said “I don’t like the idea of driving these retards underground.” And you equated “these retards” with those with Trisomy 21 – or those with Down Syndrome.

            • Rich Wilson

              Daft? C’est toi. Perhaps English isn’t your first language and you’re not familiar with the common use of the word ‘retard’? Sure. Pull out a dictionary and tell us that what TheOtherWeirdo really meant was “to slow up especially by preventing or hindering advance or accomplishment”.

              It’s using an common insult of group A against group B, insinuating that group B has the same characteristic that your word demeans in group A.

              It’s really gay.

              • FaithIsGlorifiedDelusion

                “It’s using an common insult of group A against group B, insinuating that group B has the same characteristic that your word demeans in group A.”

                “It’s really gay.”

                - You’re not just daft, your ironically daft.

                • Rich Wilson


                  I’m glad you got the point though.

    • wmdkitty

      I agree with the sentiment, as I’d like to keep an eye on those likely to become dangerously unhinged.

      But, dude, “retards”? Really? You had to drag the developmentally disabled into this, and smear them by associating them with climate denialists? That wasn’t cool, man.

  • BobaFuct

    “That’s quite a statement coming from an editorial writer not named Al Gore.”


  • bamcintyre

    And yet Faux News went to court to get a ruling that not only are they allowed to broadcast lies, but they can make up stories out of whole cloth with no requirement to ever be held accountable. The “truth” is totally optional.

    • LJinFLA

      Oh Boy! I do remember that. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Mario Strada

      And in a reasonable society, 95% of their viewership should have stopped watching that day (when they actually sued, not when they won) and go watch something else.

      I am actually really enjoying Al JAzeera these days. It reminds me of CNN of old. It’s actually amazing at first to watch a news program that informs and seems to be genuinely interested in the facts.

      • UWIR

        “And in a reasonable society, 95% of their viewership should have stopped watching that day ”
        Did Fox News report on the lawsuit? If not, how would Fox viewers know about it?

    • FaithIsGlorifiedDelusion

      Because Al-Foxeera isn’t “news”.

  • LJinFLA

    Letters to the Editor should be just that. No one says they have to be factual. They are by definition letters from the readership…to the Editor regarding their opinions or thoughts on what they have read. The Papers/Media should spend more time correcting the “lies” and “fallacies” of politics rather than expending all that energy on “correcting” what one person thinks. JMO.

    But, I can see the point of picking and choosing what letters to put in the paper.

    • Gus

      To be clear, they’re not spending time correcting anyone. They’re just making an editorial decision regarding which of the letters that are written to the they will publish. Any major newspaper receives many more letters than there is ever space to print. So they’ve decided not to print the letters obviously based on a falsehood. That’s reasonable. Why waste ink on cranks when there are letters that might actually be thought provoking and interesting?

      • LJinFLA

        Didn’t I just say that? lol.
        Agreed. Now apply that to politics…..equally….lol.

        • John O’Brien

          Actually no you did not. You said they did not have to be factual. If you can’t bother to read what you yourself wrote when responding to a criticism maybe you should refrain from posting.

          • 3lemenope

            She also wrote, “But, I can see the point of picking and choosing what letters to put in the paper.” Given that, the “Didn’t I just say that? lol. Agreed.” is plausibly interpreted as indicating that Gus’ specific point concords with her general “…I can see the point…”.

            • John O’Brien

              You’re reaching I think.

              • 3lemenope

                If I’m reaching, at least I’m reaching for the charitable interpretation, which is a good rule of thumb if one cares about maintaining comity and preserving the space for productive conversation.

              • UWIR

                In choosing which interpretation of a person’s words to consider correct, the issue of which one is consistent with their other statements, while not always conclusory, should count for a lot.

                • John O’Brien

                  Fair enough.

    • Captain Cassidy

      Has anybody mentioned this yet? If so, this seems like a good place to link to this interesting little gem revealing exactly why it might not be a good idea to run non-factual screeds from unqualified idiots.

      I agree–far better use of a paper’s time and journalists to go after the leaders in these idiotic movements than to worry about the rank-and-file.

      • UWIR

        I clicked on that link, and which then led to this link:

        That article claims that a man believed to be in a coma had communicated. The article made no mention at all about what this communication consisted of. A comment mentioned that it was Facilitated Communication, a debunked form of communication. This was an incredibly shoddy piece of journalism, and readers wouldn’t know it was a hoax without the comment section. So that’s one data point in favor of comments.

      • LJinFLA

        I apologize for taking so long to reply. I did read your link and was surprised. They said: It wasn’t a decision we made lightly. As the news arm of a 141-year-old
        science and technology magazine, we are as committed to fostering
        lively, intellectual debate as we are to spreading the word of science
        far and wide

        Yet, cut off comments. lol. Contradictory little cusses. The whole point of having a comment section is to gather the public’s thoughts about the article. Those thoughts might not be the ones you want but they are the public. I rarely hang around a site I cannot comment on. I think it is good to have your ideas bounced off other ears. It causes you to look more in-depth at the way you think and feel about what is said. JMO. Perhaps more monitors on sites that allow comments is the answer.

        • Captain Cassidy

          Hi! No worries. Disqus is cool that way. I can see why they did it, for the type of site they run and the amount of people-power they have to moderate. Moderation’s a pretty thankless task.

  • LJinFLA

    Perhaps the papers could/should have their Letter to the Editor pages, AND, The “Cracked and Crazed” Letter to the Editor pages. Wherein all conspiracy “theorists” can have their say/day.

    • Mario Strada

      It would certainly be entertaining.

  • Art_Vandelay

    Oops…I found a lie in the opening sentence of the first one I read:

    While Pope Francis is clearly a force for good in the world…

    • Itarion

      While Pope Francis is clearly a force for the lesser evil in the world?

      • 3lemenope

        Well, he ain’t Cthulu f’taghning.

        • Itarion

          Cthulhu. Cthulhu fhtagn. Please show every god, fictional or just fake, some measure of respect. Cthulhu the name, fhtagn the action. Fhtaghn, roughly “sleep-waits”.

          • C.L. Honeycutt

            Annnnd now I want to start writing to the local paper again from the perspective of a Cthulhu fundamentalist who acts just like the Christian ones.

            • Itarion

              I do not have enough thumbs to give you all of the thumbs you deserve.

              • C.L. Honeycutt

                I rate no thumbs unless I actually Fungi up and write the letters.

                But, y’know, although he gives the cranks a huge forum both because they write the great majority of letters and because he’s been told to get people worked up for more online revenue, my local opinion editor has specifically told me that if I were to start a Satanist church, for example, he would love to list me along with the other churches to whom they give small free banner ads all on one back page.

        • midnight rambler
          • wmdkitty

            Cthulhu fhtaghn
            What a wonderful phrase
            Cthulhu fhtaghn
            Ain’t no passing craze
            It means no worries, ’til the Great Old Ones wake
            This inanity
            Takes your sanity
            Cthulhu fhtaghn

            (Sorry, sung to the tune of Hakuna Matata)

            • C.L. Honeycutt


              • wmdkitty

                *evil laugh*

  • 3lemenope

    Constant engagement has effectively destroyed many bad arguments. Do people here really think that Exodus Int’l would’ve given up de-gaying people if they were just ignored? What about the many creationist arguments that even creationists now admit are bad arguments? Those weren’t achieved by disengagement either.

    Confronting arguments is important to correcting them and insuring that the worst arguments do not survive scrutiny. When you get your opponent to abandon their worst arguments, the entire process is improved. That is not achieved by disappearing those arguments from public fora such as newspapers and hoping that nobody notices. In a world that has the Internet, I can guarantee you you aren’t keeping bad arguments out of any vulnerable minds that way, but you are guaranteeing that there is less of a chance for those vulnerable minds to see the idea being properly disputed and (if it really is as fact-bereft as is claimed) refuted.

  • Beth

    We all have the internets now to spout our brand of crazy.

  • DougI

    Good, I hope more newspapers follow the example and stop publishing any rubbish that comes out of the mind of a loon. Opinions are fine, but stating lies as if they are facts should be avoided.

  • wmdkitty

    Now there’s an editor with a set of steel ones!

    (We can haz clone him?)

  • colnago80

    One only wishes that the Washington Post would drop George Will, a fervent climate change denier who has been shown by, among others, Chris Mooney, to be a liar.

  • kaydenpat

    Obama is doing that too?

  • tracy two crows

    YOWZA!.Bout TIME somebody got to the ethics Side of Journalism today!