Words are important, no matter the source | Letter to the Editor
January 29, 2013 · Updated 3:00 PM
Regarding Bill Ameling’s defense of his use of inappropriate language at the recent park board retreat (“Beachcomber failed to provide context,” Jan. 16), I think that most would agree that the point taken in The Beachcomber’s Jan. 8 editorial still stands: words matter. Words matter, whether they originate with the speaker or come from a quote that the speaker chooses. I am as big an admirer of H.L. Mencken as the next person, but I wonder if Mr. Ameling would approvingly repeat some of Mencken’s writings on race or religion. Using an authority figure as an excuse to use improper words is behavior one would more expect of Bart Simpson than a parks commissioner.
Meanwhile, David Hackett’s unprofessional language continues to go unexplained, let alone unapologized for.
Along with words, content matters, too. Here, also, one has to wonder about the substance of Mr. Ameling’s complaint of mistreatment by the paper. His one example — blaming the paper for a state audit — has been refuted by the state audit manager herself. Indeed, given the financial mess that the park board has presided over, one could only wish that the audit had been done earlier and was more extensive.
As The Beachcomber pointed out in its editor’s note after the letter, the Mencken quote appears to be apocryphal. It’s true, however, that Mencken had a low opinion of some of the newspapers of his day. Even if Mr. Ameling had managed to come up with an accurate quote consistent with Mencken’s opinion, it would have been improper from a content perspective. The papers Mencken had in mind are a far cry from The Beachcomber.
Our island newspaper is the best public forum we have. If Mr. Ameling and Mr. Hackett feel that the paper’s coverage of the park district has been incomplete or unfair, I am sure that The Beachcomber would give them editorial space to make their case. I hope they do this, and, if they do, that they use language that is worthy of a constructive, respectful dialogue among neighbors.
— Tim Morrison