Bite your lip, Xpress

Your self-indulgent practice of allowing Xpress writers to swipe back at letter contributors reached a low point in your April 30 edition. A woman wrote a letter taking exception to having been tarred by a broad-brush criticism of those residents who lack “roots” [“Hardly Bewitching”], and the writer of the referenced piece was given response space to chastise the letter writer for having such a reaction.

This backtalk was gratuitously insulting to the letter writer; more important, it added nothing factual or substantive to the issue at hand. The response was simply one last opportunity for its writer to bloviate.

You promiscuously afford this opportunity to your staff writers or contributors. The purpose of letters to the editor is to give the readers a turn, and the common journalistic practice is to simply let them do so. If the letter writer’s facts are wrong or their comments are libelous or manifestly unfair, just spike the letter. Otherwise, bite your lip and take it. Failing any compelling reason to do so, it is childish to afford your own people the last word.

— Arthur Helms
Asheville

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11 thoughts on “Bite your lip, Xpress

  1. entopticon

    I am glad Arthur Helms mentioned that. It struck me as unfair as well.

  2. entopticon

    I didn’t see Arthur’s point as being about what the Mountain Xpress’s stance on the issue was, just that it is not very fair to include a retort that doesn’t specifically address some factual misstatement because the letter writer is not afforded the same advantage.

    Personally, I find the whole idea of roots to be ridiculously myopic. American Indians have had roots here for at least 10,000 years. The rest of us have roots wherever our ancestors are from.

    Just because your great-great-great grandpappy may have killed off the indigenous people and settled in the area a few generations ago, that does not mean you have any more claim to this area than anyone else.

    Everybody is from somewhere, and the idea that some people have more of a right than others to live wherever they choose is hypocritical and ridiculous.

    That’s particularly true of Asheville, which has been a tourist town since its inception.

  3. on the other hand, there is nothing wrong with and a lot to be said for having roots in a place you love, a place you belong to and call ‘home’ in all the sense of that wonderful word.

    for all those searching, I do sincerely hope you find ‘home’ sometime in your life … but … often… when you go back… you’ll find it’s the place you were born.

  4. entopticon

    I agree Robert. THere is nothing wrong with feeling rooted to a place if that feels good for you. My problem is with the people who feel they have more of a right to be here, or anywhere else, than anyone else.

    As I said, indigenous people may have an argument for having more of a right to the place that their ancestors are from, but for the rest of us, such claims are pure hypocrisy.

    Of course, it is a tricky issue for the ancestors of colonists, because we do not have the same ancient attachment as indigenous people to any place.

    I do think that anyone in America has just as much of a right to live wherever they want as the next person. People from Alaska can move to Asheville if they want. People from Asheville can move to Alaska if they want. As they say, it’s a free country.

    Of course, people coming into any new area should do their best to support the natural environment of the area, as should the locals. Where I live, both do harm and both do good.

    We will never regain the millions and millions of acres that were clearcut across the entirety of these mountains over the last couple of centuries by our great-great grandparents to build the homes that we now live in, but we can start to at least consider the impact we have on the local environment.

    Every one of us lives on what used to be pristine virgin forest with towering trees that took hundreds and hundreds of years to grow. One of the unfortunate side-effects of the post modern condition is that none of us is without responsibility and guilt for the impact that we have.

    The most we can do is try to lessen our impact and help others to see the virtues of that with humility and grace. When we jump to self-righteous indignation over who has the most right to be here etc, we travel down a slippery slope towards sanctimonious hypocrisy.

  5. yep, you got it … of course, being part Cherokee, my people were here many moon before the roundeyed tourists came to our casino. ;-)

    but… above all, this is HOME to me. Too many newcomers simply do not understand nor care about our culture and heritage.

    And it’s their loss.

  6. Johnny Lemuria

    Mr. Helms, entopticon, thank you for proving my friend Ms. Ballard’s point. The amount of hysterical outrage generated by her op-ed is quite amusing. And as for the supposed “preferential treatment”- well, it helps that she can write. And I’m confident that if either one of you would or could write a guest editorial for the Xpress, then would extend the courtesy to you.

  7. I think you should all leave. The kingdom of Bugg shall paint the castle walls will the blood of the nonbelievers.

  8. entopticon

    I’m not clear Johnny Lemuria; what point did I prove? To refer to my post as hysterical outrage is hyperbole at best.

    The Mountain Xpress did extend an invitation to me to write an editorial article, so if I get the motivation and inspiration I may just do that.

  9. Letter writers have a first amendment right to be factually wrong, unfair, and certainly rootless as well as refugees from elitist ZONING! in Boston.
    Would anyone care to link me to the original article or letter?

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