Changing the Tone of Discussion

Letters To The Editor

Letters To The Editor

Back on December 28, 2008, I had my latest letter to the editor (LTE) published in our local newspaper the Potomac News.  This letter was a rebuttal and answer to our local columnist James Simpson.  Mr. Simpson subsequently promised a rebuttal to my answer, and this week he did just that.

Not much of a surprise there, but what did pleasantly surprise me was his tone.  He actually wrote a respectful response laying out his opinions without any hint of mocking me.

Mr. Simpson’s February 6, 2009, column Big Bucks for Education starts out:

There are many issues that I would like to write about right now, especially with the General Assembly in session. However, Ron Charest provided an answer to my previous question, which was: “In today’s dollars, exactly how much money (per child/per year) would be required to provide an adequate education?” Mr. Charest is curious as to how I will respond to his answer.

He goes on to quote my previous LTE, and lays out his own opinions. Even more surprisingly, I can almost agree with his conclusion, that we should be reducing the cost of both our military expenditures and cost of education. He makes a valid point that in Virginia, only $45,000 of $185,000 per year/per class of 20 students is going to teacher salaries.

Of course, he did work in a claim that he was always opposed to our involvement in Iraq, a point I objected to in my on-line post by reminding him of his 2007 Thanksgiving column, where he claimed that public opinions opposing our war in Iraq was treasonous speech. But no matter.

What I found refreshing was that he actually expressed his opinions based on a semblance of facts, without once attempting to mock me. This tone was completely different than a year ago, when the late columnist Ken Concannon used most of his weekly column in mocking me as a “liberon” (liberal moron).

I like to think I’ve played a small part in creating this sea change in the tone of Conservative’s writing, here in our small part of Prince William County, Virginia.

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