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Another View

No shortage of opinions from readers in 2008

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There’s been no shortage of opinions on the editorial pages of the Auburn Journal this year. As the news editor, I compile and edit the letters you, our readers, submit via e-mail, fax and mail. In all, you wrote us 2,332 letters this year. Many of them came leading up to the general election as readers penned their thoughts on the historic presidential race, California’s Proposition 8, the local contest between 4th Congressional District candidates Tom McClintock and Charlie Brown. It seemed like many mornings in September and right up until Nov. 4 were spent processing dozens of letters. At one point, 200 letters were waiting in our queue to be published. All of the letters deemed fit for print were eventually published (either in print or online). But this year, we brought the discussion online by allowing comments from registered users of Auburnjournal.com. It was online where many letters took on a life of their own beyond the Opinion page. Online, readers were able to fire back, concur and elaborate. While the online comments often foray into petty bickering, many used this forum to further the discussion that began with one courageous letter writer. And courage is really what it takes sometimes to express an opinion. I want to congratulate all of those opinionated souls who penned letters this year. I believe the Opinion page is the cornerstone of the newspaper and fully demonstrates our right to freedom of speech. I thought I’d also share a few letters that really stirred the pot this year and some of the comments made on them: On May 28, letter writers Elizabeth and Matt Thorup set off a firestorm of debate after sharing an incident at an Auburn restaurant where a fellow restaurant patron scolded the parents for letting their 16-month-old baby squeal. The letter had 1,676 views and 131 comments, making it the most viewed and most commented letter of the year. Some expressed that it was impossible to keep babies perfectly quiet. “Let’s be honest, we’ve all been there. If there are any parents out there that can honestly say they’ve never had their own child get a little out of control in public then wow! I’d love to shake your hand,” wrote a writer known as foothillsfamily online. Others let off steam from many an enjoyable meal disrupted by a child’s cries. “There is a time and a place for everything. How about the other patrons of the restaurant who were paying money to enjoy a nice, peaceful meal, only to have it disrupted by a crying baby?” wrote a writer going by the handle GreenBeans. Vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin was common fodder for letters to the editor. “Liberals should butt out of Palin daughter pregnancy” was a letter written by Greg Calac of Auburn and published on Sept. 4. With 1,433 views and 65 online comments it was one of the top letters of the year. “But, the predictable attack dogs will be salivating over this news,” Calac wrote. “But they shouldn’t be so quick to attempt to gain political leverage out of this news.” Some agreed the pregnancy shouldn’t be politicized because it was a private family matter. Others thought the story was fair game. Skeptic wrote on Sept. 4: “You can’t have it both ways. Palin cannot define herself as a champion of the anti-sex ed abstinence only crowd ... and expect the press to ignore the irony when her own unwed underage daughter gets knocked-up, too.” The most hotly debated topic on the Opinion page this year had to be Proposition 8, the ballot initiative to change the California Constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. Many wrote in with intelligent arguments from both sides of the issue. The most viewed letter on that topic was Roland Meyer’s letter of June 28 that insinuated that perhaps the wildfires that plagued California this year were God’s punishment for the California Supreme Court’s decision to allow same-sex unions. With 1,274 page views and 72 comments, it was one of the most read and most commented stories, showing how one idea (whether you agree with it or not) can have a big ripple in the online universe. Keep writing in 2009! ---------- Most viewed: “Baby’s crying caused a stir at local restaurant” 1677 views “Palin’s introduction to nation filled with lies” 1561 views “Liberals should butt out of Palin daughter pregnancy” 1432 views “DUI charge was unethical, waste of time and money” 1346 views “Are California fires result of same-sex marriages?” 1273 views “Letter writer spread more misinformation on Palin” 1201 views “Can’t decide? Look at who our enemies would prefer” 1170 views “Most of what you hear about Obama is garbage” 1155 views “Loomis News Web site gives residents online voice, chance to share” 1074 views “Gays on front page of newspaper is disgraceful” 983 views Most commented: “Baby’s crying caused a stir at local restaurant” 131 comments “Future too important to call scientists idiots” 126 comments “Separation of church and state ensures protections” 118 comments “Don’t quote founding fathers out of context” 105 comments “DUI charge was unethical, waste of time and money” 94 comments “Congress shouldn’t back down to Bush’s ignorance” 90 comments “Gays on front page of newspaper is disgraceful” 79 comments “Time magazine signs on to global warming ‘scam’” 77 comments “Palin’s introduction to nation filled with lies” 75 comments “Are California fires result of same-sex marriages?” 72 comments