If you disagree or agree with one of the letters or columns or commentaries on this page or the one next to it, you have an open and standing invitation to either:
Submit a letter in response, following all the guidelines we provide here, including using your real name, or
Post a comment on modbee.com, where you don't have any limits on length and can be anonymous.
But please, don't:
Look up the phone number of a letter writer and call him or her, either attacking him or her on the spot or leaving a threatening phone message.
Find the address for the letter writer and send him or her an anonymous letter at home, again.
Why would I bring up these last two points? Because they are exactly what happened to two of our letter writers last week.
We've heard of this before, but only on rare occasion. It's troubling to me because it's unsettling to the letter writers and because we provide a really easy way for people to respond out in the open.
The residents who submit letters to The Bee have the courage to put their names with their views. For that, they deserve our respect in an era when too many people refuse to be held accountable for what they say.
Letter writers identify important concerns in the community. And sometimes they make the rest of us laugh, or cry, or become angry.
Which leads me to a second thought for the day. Two letter writers complained about the content of letters "Stop giving voice to bad letters" and "Hateful speech should be limited" (Nov. 21). I received a call Tuesday along a similar vein.
The letters they were complaining about were all, my words, sour grapes letters about President Barack Obama's re-election.
For decades now long before the Internet newspapers such as The Bee have provided a public forum for Americans to express their views on public issues. Some of the views are expressed very well, with complete, grammatically correct sentences and using sound, persuasive arguments. Some of the letters resort to name calling and what we used to refer to as glittering generalities, but that doesn't mean we exclude them. Our readers are smart enough to spot the hyperbole and the lack of critical thinking.
Usually, if one letter gets it all wrong, another letter writer will respond. We love that exchange.
So long as residents are willing to put their names on their letters, to focus on public issues and not personal attacks on private citizens, then we want to make space for their views.
Sly is editor of the Opinions pages. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2317 or on Twitter @judysly.