What a Country!
(Printed in the Towanda Daily Review on 8/7/95.)
Editor: One of the great things about this country is our freedom of expression. As written in the First Amendment to the Constitution, the assumption is that we already have certain rights that Congress is forbidden to violate. With these rights (and the letter-to-the-editor forum kindly offered by this newspaper), I can express my opinions and present arguments on the topics of my choosing. Anyone can agree with me, disagree with me, ignore me, or present their opinions and arguments on whatever subject they desire. Though usually helpful, there are no requirements to be interesting, timely, pertinent, relevant, or even coherent.

In Marie Terlizzi's letter of 8/1/95, she mentioned an anonymous neighbor who said that I should shut up. As I think back, there doesn't appear to be anyone that I know who hasn't told me to shut up at least once and probably more often. So Mrs. Terlizzi's neighbor could be someone that I know. Hi.

In my recent letters to the editor, topics have included the First Amendment, school prayer, freedom, rights, logic, homosexuality, AIDS, and flag burning. Mrs. Terlizzi could have commented on any of these -- I doubt that my reasoning is that perfect. Maybe she agrees with me. She could have argued about school prayer; she could have discussed logic; she could have presented an objective argument on any number of interesting topics. But she didn't.

Instead she resorted to a personal attack rather than take the time to present an informed, objective opinion that many people, myself included, might have been interested in reading. As I've written in the past, the tactic of personal attack (Argumentum Ad Hominem) is commonly used to divert attention from a topic in order to avoid meaningful dialogue or stop debate entirely.

Finally Mrs. Terlizzi mentioned her informal survey of Review readers who find my letters tedious and boring. So I conducted my own survey, and everybody told me to shut up. But I haven't listened before, and probably won't start now. Freedom of Expression -- what a great idea. As the Russian comedian says, "What a country."

John L. Ferri
jlferri@epix.net


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