You asked for input concerning editorial policy in regard to letters to the editor. Here are my thoughts:
• The First Amendment does not guarantee a right to publication or public proclamations without reasonable restrictions. Libel, defamation and creating hysteria come to mind. Therefore, some rational and reasonable filters are entirely appropriate when creating a public forum. Intent as well as content can be examined and considered. As long as alternate sides of an issue are represented fairly, these guidelines can and should be administered. A rant, for example, containing primarily derogatory attacks or obviously incorrect or misleading information, is not an appropriate communication and is fair game to be disallowed. Begin each column with a brief statement of the limits.
• Poorly written letters, even those with obvious problems with grammar or construction, are completely allowable as long as they fit the guidelines above. A constructive point of view should not be restricted by having to meet certain mechanical requirements.
• Contemporary and community issues should be given preference and this policy made clear.
• It’s your bulletin board. If you feel you are being fair and balanced, and if the intent is to be open and informative, and if you can look yourself in the mirror each day, just do your best and don’t apologize.