Right in the centre - Keep it polite


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

Every so often, a comment or a letter comes along that’s a bit discouraging. We have received a lot of letters lately and most have been very well thought out and reasonably well composed. In addition, we also get a large number of submitted columns. We don’t have room for many submitted pieces but we try our very best. We have to make decisions, right or wrong, we have to make decisions.

So the discouraging letter that came along made my task easier this week. First of all, the letter was not local, it wasn’t even from Manitoba. Second, the writer decided to call me some derogatory names and that’s fine, but when people choose to use disparaging names and comments, it masks over whatever the message may have been. The writer was trying to make the point that they disagree with my stand on an issue but instead of elaborating their views, it was pretty much buried under insults against my character and methods.

There’s another writer who occasionally takes exception to what I say but he always masks over his views with his hatred for me or people who think like I do. He doesn’t even ask that we publish his letters and we willingly oblige. There’s another writer who is always condemning a particular ag industry. He throws out claims about the industry but rarely backs them up with facts or studies.

Every industry has its downside and every industry causes some damage to the environment. There should be no tolerance for willful ignorance or willful damage. But to hear some critics, one would assume, for example, that hogs and oil are dirty industries, while ignoring that spent wind turbines can’t yet be recycled and are being cut up and buried in landfills. Overall solutions need to be looked at for every industrial endeavour, in fact every human endeavour, and make sure we know the consequences from start to finish.

In contrast to the above three writers mentioned, people say, “That Leonard Paramour guy, he really gives you a hard time. Why do you publish his stuff, anyway? He really doesn’t like you.”  That perception, as some people are surprised to find out, is totally wrong. Leonard and I agree on many things. We have known each other and have been friends for the best part of 50 years. And, no, we don’t agree on every item, but we do both staunchly defend the idea that opinions are opinions and they need to be expressed. I have no intention of squelching opinions, but when people don’t, or won’t, be reasonably nice about it as per the examples above, those insult wrapped opinions aren’t likely to see the light of day in the paper.

Lately, people have taken to phoning our politicians, and worse yet, their staff and expressing hatred and vitriol to towards them. I have said it before, that’s not acceptable. I slipped up earlier this year and spoke inappropriately in the presence of a hospital staff person. I felt badly and went back later in the day and apologized. They graciously accepted my apology and for that, I was thankful.

Anyway, this morning I was doing some math and this column is one of about 1,650 I have written. I have likely annoyed everybody somewhere at some point in time. If I have slipped into the insult mode, I apologize.

The point is, if we don’t have vigorous and active discussion, we won’t make any progress at all. We are making progress for sure. The world is a better place to live, grow and thrive, at least from a prosperity and health point of view than it was 50 years ago. Certainly it is better than 100 or 200 years ago. It has been said that life in the 1800s and early 1900s was cruel, brutish and short. We have made progress and one of the key factors in that progress is having vigorous and active discussion. And it’s a whole lot better when we leave the personal insults out of it.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are the writer’s personal views and are not to be taken as being  the view of the Banner & Press staff.