LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - Civil discourse should be the rule


I hope in the future the Union-Bulletin will decline to print offers of violence of the kind it published on Nov. 8 from Robert Phillips.

In his letter to the editor, Phillips expressed outrage at a prior letter from Jerry Votendahl criticizing Sheriff John Turner's request for a million dollar increase in the Sheriff's Office budget. While urging citizens to "take a stand against all the trash talk," Phillips invited Votendahl to "meet me in the ring at a boxing club and we will straighten it out in the first round."

This isn't the first time the U-B has published an offer or threat of violence from one letter writer to another. An instance I remember vividly occurred quite a few years ago when the U-B printed a letter from a writer threatening to assault a client of mine from Dayton, Dmitri Borgmann, if the writer encountered him on the street. Borgmann was a frequent and outspoken contributor whose views were often unpopular, but I was astounded the U-B would publish an express threat of violence against him.

I often don't agree with Votendahl's statements. However, both the U-B and Phillips owe him an apology for their own lapse of civility and ethics.

Whatever the rightness of Votendahl's positions or Phillips' criticism of them, their merits can't be determined by whoever happens to be physically stronger or more aggressive, and they shouldn't be silenced by intimidation.

Let's promote mutual respect and civil discourse as we address our various problems and challenges. We'll be better off as a community.

Daniel N. Clark

Walla Walla


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