No room for rebuttals


The Spirit of Jefferson has always maintained a strong editorial voice. It was my intention when I came on board as editor more than a year ago to enrich it even more by both adding an opinion page and recruiting good writers to fill it. Over the past year, I’m pleased to have run local commentary by a number of area writers like Sean O’Leary, Bob O’Connor and Elliot Simon. The Spirit becomes an authentic forum for the voice of its community in being able to host such a robust range of ideas as the ones present here regullarly.

Since accepting my invitation to begin writing for the Spirit, Elliot Simon has been a fixture on these pages and his columns have been popular with the our readers. Indeed, his work has been a welcome addition to this newspaper.

As he mulled over my offer to write last year, Simon asked me what sort of guidelines he had to write under. My answer was simple: all I ask is that we don’t write rebuttals of other columnist’s work. Other than that, you have free range, I told him. Write about whatever strikes your match. The reason for my rule was simple: I wanted columnists to explore their own theses without having to worry about a scenario where all writers did was routinely rebut the work of others whose work appeared here. I’ve seen it happen and I know it turns readers off. Ultimately, everything we publish should be as a service to our readers.

It took Simon 12 weeks to circumvent my rule when he wrote a rebuttal to a column of mine that ran on Feb. 6 about gun control. As it turned out, I had one column too many on last week’s opinion page so I was able to hold it while I decided what to do with this rogue piece of his.

Below is my solution: I decided to run Simon’s column as a letter to the editor and publish it as he wrote it without editing it for space.  


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