H°W "<*'**«>,. ^° Attend0' ^0**°" ^r/e^
The Truth You've Spoken
l|i'n\ first learning of Fads I'm urns
•L1 effort to encourage' citizens to write
"Letters to the Editor," I was delighted.
Here was ;i publication drumming up
contributors and readers for its contemporaries even competitors. Truly. I
thought, Ihis -inee-re effort to increase
the volume of vox populi to the enlightenment and glory of the land is a
good deed shining in a naughty world.
I decided lo give the project such help
as I could.
My work leads me into the highways
and byways over a wide Midwestern
area and occasionally beyond. I meel
persons of all races and creeds in all
wedks of life. Other business concluded.
I have asked each man or woman two
First, Do \ou read the Idlers to the
editor in the publications to which you
Second, Do vmi ever utile letters to
I Im answers were disturbing, enlightening, amusing, even astonishing. I
will i.mil further pertinent adjectives,
but the answers gave me pause. After
Pausing, I decided lo dig deeper. This
composition is the resull of those excavations.
The sum of the majority of answers
to the firsl question was: / rend them
now and I hen: or. \ol any more: or.
I hose letters are pap. 11 looks like only
"10runs ever write one.
To the second question I got: / unite
"ne fnr two) but I'll ne'er it rite another.
By asking why. I got: They never
printed it; or, l/i letter came out so
^hanged and chopped up thai it didn I
'"V what I meant.
Or ihis one, which al first I look with
'"iisielerahle -eill: The only thing they
Printed that I sent in lias my name.
I kepi digging until these answers
Viw I spent ei quarter century as a
"•ember of the vaunted fourth estate. I
U:|s managing editor of one metropolitan
Gaily newspaper and held down city,
"'graph and state desks on scores of
"triers before becoming a free lance
Producer of fiction and newspaper
Mures. I was loath to believe that
had descended to whal the
my ipiesiie.iis indicated. 1
painfully. I considered the
by Seven Anderton
possibility theii the letter writers I heul
questioned were nol Chaucers or flux-
leys. Neither am I, but I did spend
man) years in translating the ghastlv
product of school of journalism graduates into readability. So I thoughl. il
may be possible thai those who had
complained to me were verbose, redundant, etc., emd it had been necessary to
edit their contributions. I did not convince myself very well, because liianv
had produced for my benefit the carbons or copies of their Idlers, plus the
published versions for comparisons.
(Also, I am aware thai the fool
killer has always been too busy to catch
all lhe alleged editors hv whom English
composition is reckoned unlv In lines
of Ivpe and column inches. I .nice' seit in
a copy desk s|(lt nn Lincoln's birthda)
when el make-up editor sent down ei
proof of llu- Gettysburg Address with
orders thai the elcsk emi two lines oul
Nevertheless. I had lo be ciilliplrlclv
convinced. I sal down emd began writing "Dear Editor, etc." Over a period
of months, I wrote letters on matters
of current public interest to dozens of
papers from Denver to Chicago and
from \ew Orleans to Minneapolis. I
Mure them two-thirds of my letters
were published. Bul of nearlj two hundred such onlv two were embalmed in
type exactl) eis written. Perhaps a dozen
more were only slightly damaged by lhe
editorial blue pencil. The rest were
butchered, chopped, emasculated and
distorted until, having read them, I
truly undersl I Kipling's "lhe truth
you've spoken, twisted hv knaves ,
make' ei trap fm fools." I felt thai ei
blue pencil had placed me high on the
lisl of all-lime 1110inns.
1 supply one example. Space will not
allovv more. This is neither lhe most nor
the leasl horrible of those at hand, hui
it will suffice.
\..\e Russia has aj\,.|i the Chinese Reds
eeni' hundred slices. Just a portion uf v.tint
-In- borrowed frnm ns emd never returned.
Inexpensive benevolence, what?
\.ilni.lv rein accuse Uncle Semi nf being
a bully. When ei neighbor grows belligerent lie lunula the dee- el pair nf bras*
keillekl.'s .eliel el lileieklenk elli.l s;i\s. "Ne,\\
I iirninisi' tei kce-p one hand in mv pocket
anil not double up the other fist. Hut if
S FORUM NKWS, August, 1955
vim bit me' I may sli.n.t ..It an eitnin bomb
Perhaps ev can fine! solace in tin- old
-eiw. "There is ee special Providence ivhich
uelti'lii-s uvea- feeeels." lint \ee- learn from
lhe- Bible ll.eil even Providence ran grow
Even il I nele Sam I.e.- i\... Iireiel- eiml
lee.lli eef them two-faced, he musl have
leeng since lllll nut ul e'lle'i'ks tee llllll. O
gentle people! Read Jeremiah <>-ll em,I
write' tei your congressmen.
Uncle Sam Cheekless
Chi: i . hundred
rowed" frnm us and never
returned. Inexpensive benevo-
Perhaps there ieciaJ
idence which watches over
vve leavn from the
Bible theit even the pattern
en if Uncle Sam has two
head h of them two-
e un out of
Is ii anv wonder thai w riters of letters
lu the editor grow discouraged — or
I cling leisl In lhe opinion lhat there
should he a medium for the true and
uncensored opinions etnd ideas nl ;dl the'
pea.pie', lllll I ellll I'llllV [ lleeil il eanilnl
be found iii columns presided over bv
some eager blue pencil pilol whuse' Firsl
allegiance is to his pav check and the
policies, business or political, of his
ihe voice of the people should l.e
heard loudly ami constantlj . Bul w hen
it ea Hues gratis From the heart uf a
citizen, no mailer hv whal motive compelled, emd "gnus in there" il should nol
"come mil here" so hetdlv garbled emd
twisted hv editorial hankv-pankv that
il nn lunger eeinvevs the idea, elpplellls,'
ur criticism which it- composer intended.
Feline's note: The eiutlieer of tlie- preceding
article has more ineueaieel read) "ii thr senile-
subject eiml is continuing Ins research. He
lae- promised Facts Forum the further documented results i.l theit research in future
articles. Ih' nill appreciate am help from
others who hen.' enc .red the problem
particularly in ihr form of letters published
in mutilated form, together nidi copies ..I
ihr letters a- <.i i-L11.iM> submitted. All communications inn-! be signed eiml show tlle- eul-
.lir— nf tin- sen,I,a. Mr. Vnderton's address i-
I'. 0. B..V I'll. Edgar, Nebraska.
I'a ire eil