Friday, March 16, 2007

Write Ho!

All of us have this overwhelming desire to get it of our chest, to leap into print with a pithy comment on something that seems, momentarily perhaps, of immense importance. It is why there are "Blogs" such as this. The suppressed author in us revels at the chance of telling the world just what we think of them.
In bygone years, the opportunity was primarily left to retired military men who would compose their letters to the press, usually The Times, in the seclusion of their study over a glass or two of port, signing themselves, "Disgusted, Hove (Col. Retd.)" or "Appalled, A Patriot (former RN)."
The papers were understandably pretty choosy about just which letters they saw fit to publish, an admirably sensible policy. But now discretion has been thrown to the winds and, by courtesy of the dubious blessing of the internet, almost every paper gives the world, and possibly his wife, the opportunity to have their dig at their columnists.
Usually headed "Have Your Say" or some similarly encouraging motto, it offers you the chance of telling the writer just what a load of rubbish he has just written.
Now some of these comments are tolerably well phrased and the arguments effectively presented. But a good many of them are nowhere near the standard we had come to expect from Disgusted, Hove, and are merely boring recitals of a poorly expressed personal opinion.
Sometimes, when the subject has been an especially emotive one of great importance to our society, such as the wedding of a pseudo celebrity, the letters run into boring yards of typespace.
This is a brilliant device on the part of the newspaper magnates, since it enables them to fill up the white space they have left over, after having compiled all the garbage that's fit to print, with even more piffle - and it's all for free.
I suppose it serves as a social safety valve, preventing those who have thus got it off their chest from going out and mugging old ladies or indulging in any other of the national sports that the population beguile themselves with, but it makes for pretty boring reading.
As a precaution, I think I'll remove the little "Comment" function at the bottom of this piece. You can't be too careful.



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