LETTER – Name-calling in letters to the editor does nothing to strengthen the argument

I read the latest letter and the beefs responding to Angela Bennett’s letter about a housing development in Comox.

The attacks on her seemed pretty virulent, so I went online to read Bennett’s letter of March 12 (Resident says ‘boomer’ sense of entitlement evident at public hearing for Comox development).

I didn’t see the kind of name-calling in her letter that I saw in the other two pieces. From the March 17 B&Bs, she is called a “ranter” whose comments are described as “inflammatory” and “hateful.” The piece ends with a (mis)interpretation of her message. Then, the March 19 letter from Peter Abbott – who, like Bennett, at least put their names behind their words (Meeting attendee disappointed but not surprised with the letter attacking opposition to Comox development) – contains the kind of ad hominem attack that he accuses Bennett of. Bennett at least includes some real facts about high rental prices and low vacancy rates in Comox; the claim that she “can’t debate the facts” so she attacks the person has no merit. The only provocative words in her letter are “selfishness” and “shameful.” And maybe they’re just accurate. She even includes herself in the problem.

Compare this to Abbott’s letter, with his own invectives of “shameful, brutal, self-serving” because Bennett does not “share [his] point of view.” Her opinion is “vulgar” and she is declared immature and petulant. However, he does agree with her plea for affordable housing and daycare. But what is his ultimate argument against the project? That it will “impact the community.” Sounds like NIMBYism to me.

But my reason for writing this letter is not to argue for or against development. It is to make us more aware of our speech and our treatment of each other. Non-violent communication is a method of honestly expressing ourselves and listening empathetically. It leaves judgment (and shaming and guilt and anger) at the door. Bennett has simply expressed a frustration felt by many. And you are free to have a separate opinion. But an opinion is not name-calling or verbally attacking people’s character. So maybe you could apologize to Angela, not for your passion, but for your method of communicating.

Judy Johnson,

Comox

Letter to the Editor

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