I have two suggestions:
Add at least a half-page to your letters portion of the op-ed. Make it a permanent feature as long as you have a number of letters to use. I consider the letters to the editor section the most interesting in the paper.
By all means continue publishing letters pertaining to statewide and national issues, which directly affect the residents of northern Gila County for ill or good a lot more than practically anything else you can report. Our nation is in the mess it is in because far too many people paid attention only to local issues.
In my view, if you make no other changes at all, those two changes will double the interest in your paper.
That being said, I was shocked — shocked, I say! — when the editor of a newspaper engaged a letter writer in a debate on a subject as volatile as “creationism.” My goodness! You might as well have challenged someone on their belief in chemtrails, or HAARP causing Hurricane Sandy or most hopeless of all, someone’s belief in the euphemisms “reproductive rights” or, alternatively, “pro-life.”
But seriously, once I got over being initially startled, it occurred to me that the worst purgatory of all might be an editor prohibited from debating foolishness in print. I say, go for it when so moved!
It’s probably OK to establish a rule limiting back-and-forths to maybe three letters, or even just two, as long as the rule can be ignored when the rebuttal-to-the-rebuttal presents new information or an alternative perspective. One side or the other will always have the last word. No help for it. After all, the unpublished rebuttal can always be added online.
I certainly do not think letter writers should be limited to one letter a month. It’s easy enough to impose such a rule quietly when a letter writer is clearly being bizarre, or repeating the same things over and over.
You may consider that caveat applies to me, since I respond to every published letter advocating people be stripped of their right to keep and bear arms, or be deprived of their right to due process as a pre-condition for exercising a right, etc. But we are in serious, intentional, orchestrated trouble as a nation founded on principles of liberty, and if we lose our Constitution, we lose the last best hope for mankind. Every time that snake-head pokes above the cesspool it must be destroyed, because we are right on the edge.
I agree with your “no name-calling rule,” but I strenuously oppose any such rule if it prohibits calling Leftist Communist Democratic thugs “Leftist Communist Democratic thugs.”
Donald L. Cline