Monday, February 06, 2006

"Bombastic" letters to the editor

While reading the always-amusing Best of the Web Today by James Taranto (WSJ), he quotes a letter to the editor of the University of New Hampshire student newspaper. The first paragraph follows:
I take issue with the dating advice column printed in last Friday's edition of The New Hampshire. This article, published by "Dr. Durham," offers readers "15 ways to get yourself noticed by the opposite sex." The column's title, "Dear Dr. Durham," suggests some sort of professional, medical opinion relegating the singular and implicitly "normative" sexual preference of our student body. The article's presentation, one column for "girls" and one for "guys," separated by a vertical black line, reflects the social myth that there are only two gender categories and, subsequently, only two rigid forms of gender expression.
When I first read this, I honestly thought the writer wasn't completely serious. The entire letter is peppered with multiple adverbs, adjectives, and somewhat obscure words. It brought to mind a letter to the editor we once wrote in the Geology grad cubes (now you can see why it took most of us longer than two years to get our masters' degrees). A sample sentence (the entire letter is reproduced below for your reading pleasure):
With some consternation we read Mr. Russell Hansen's polemical and vituperative letter regarding television and the turpitude thereof.
We actually combed through our GRE practice books for the most bizzare, unusual words we could find.

So I was entirely ready to take this student's words with a BIG grain of salt, knowing the craziness that can ensue in college. Alas, it seems more likely that she is serious--she is a member of the university's "Students Advocating Gender Equality" organization. This is probably a cause near and dear to her heart.

Oh well. Still, it brought back some good memories. We had some good times in the grad cubes.

Dear Editor,

With some consternation we read Mr. Russell Hansen's polemical and vituperative letter regarding television and the turpitude thereof.

Under an air of probity, he claimed television had "single-handedly managed to eviscerate and trivialize all facets of our culture" and that "television -- the medium and its message -- deserve censure, not praise."

These are equivocal statements, tenuous at best, grossly erroneous at worst. Allow us to elucidate our dissidence and disabuse these fallacies so shamelessly disseminated.

First, we find the idea of the inherent inimicability and eviscerative abilities of television to be abstruse.

The medium of television, so deserving of censure, includes the tube, cables, antennae, satellites and receivers -- we could also include VCRs, DVDs videotapes and disks.

These are all inherently inimical? No. The ideas disseminated through the medium foment human baseness, but the medium is not responsible. We could make the same argument against paper publications, computers and the spoken word. Are these mediums also inimical?

Now the alleged evisceration of our culture. Once eviscerated, an organism undoubtedly expires.

So our culture is dead? What culture is that? Isn't television a mere representation of our culture? A mirror?

Television executives do not produce inchoate programs. Careful research is involved, it is what our culture wants to see. Television does not create or destroy our culture; it reflects it.

We compliment the ebullience of Mr. Hansen, and while this response is a bit aberrant, we do not intend it to be supercilious or banal. We do feel it a commensurate response.

Although teetering on the edge of being bombastic, we hope it is mentally salubrious.

Cuz, like, dude, the tube's like totally awesome 'n stuff!

Jason Aase

Orem, Utah

Keryn Tobler

Las Vegas

Jared Lyman

Los Alamos, N.M.

Emily Bartlett

South Jordan, Utah


Erin said...

Love the letter!

Midnight Golfer said...

i remember when you guys wrote that letter. raytibbitts

Keryn said...

Raytibbitts, I'm trying to place you--were you in Geology at BYU? Let me know!