Recently, Esther Vergara wrote to question my sense of patriotism and my reputation as a teacher (I’ve been retired for five years). It was a unique letter in one respect. I don’t recollect ever reading a response to an editorial that concentrated on the writer, without mentioning what was written. I’m surprised such a personal attack was printed.
Ms. Vergara posed (“How did he teach?” Sept. 10 Tracy Press) a rhetorical question: “Did his students just succumb to his logic”?
Since Ms. Vergara didn’t advance any ideas of her own, we are left wondering about her motive for writing. It may be that she simply resents the fact that a scold like Mickey McGuire occasionally replies to blatant falsehoods in other people’s letters.
Shouldn’t people have the right to say what they wish, whether true or not, without having to worry about whether someone will notice? We have all heard from a group of writers, particularly but not exclusively on the political right, who read sloppy and unreliable sources. They figure that if they repeat a falsehood, their source is to blame.
Others follow a different standard. As a matter of integrity, they believe that the veracity of everything above their name is their responsibility. One need not double-check every fact. Just read and quote from trustworthy sources.
Here are two examples of why good sources are important:
In these pages, Frank Aquila recently claimed (“McNerney is no moderate,” Aug. 20 Tracy Press) that the national debt has doubled in less than two years under the Democrats. Rhonda Theisen went further (“What I’ll remember in November,” Sept. 10 Tracy Press). She said that the “Democrats quadrupled the debt in 18 months.” Actually, it’s not possible to double or quadruple the national debt in less than two years.
If such outlandish claims go unchallenged, won’t people begin to believe them?
Ms. Vergara is right about one thing: People who read what I write may indeed be in danger of succumbing to logic.