First, I want to thank the paper for setting out these rules or guidelines so that all of us can see the policy of the paper (something that might need to be done periodically as a reminder).

Free speech to me, requires that I take responsibility for what I write. I do not share whatever thoughts come into my head, but that I be clear on why I am writing, what I am focusing on as an issue, etc.

Second, I recognize how busy most of us are and that taking the time to write is not a first priority for many of us. Those who do write are attempting to pursue others to their way of thinking, but the guidelines can help in keeping those ideas more civil.

The fact that people who are accused of something in these letters have knowledge of what is being said beforehand gives me comfort. They are then deciding whether to respond or not to those allegations and that is very important for healthy and fair representation.

Third, those of us in a small town may be concerned over issues, be very verbal about those issues, and not go any further. Words, whether spoken or written, carry weight and influence others.

So I again look at my right to free speech and think that if I can pause before I speak or react that this might support the growing need for tolerance and acceptance.

We are neighbors, friends, and a community that has prided itself on how we get along. If this is to be true, about how we behave with each other, then clarifying things like the guidelines for letters to the editor can only help.

Carol McClintic

Editor’s note: Ms. McClintic is the former chair of the CSA 36 Advisory Committee.