Shocked and saddened by such objectionable Star letters
The letters page has become a vehicle for harsh views and unpleasant discourse, writes Peter Lawley.
I am saddened and shocked that on New Year's Day, the Shropshire Star should publish letters which refer to 'traitors' and 'traitors are no longer hanged' from 'Name and address supplied' and W I Huxley, Shrewsbury, respectively.
These written in response to a letter published by the Star in similar terms from Sylvia Loosely before Christmas.
Mr Huxley's letter in particular is utterly objectionable, since it feeds into an increasingly extreme and strident narrative in my view, which regards our politicians as simply delegates, bidden to follow the mores and passions of their constituents, instead of the representational role that they hold.
It was this narrative stream, I would remind you, that led to the murder of MP Jo Cox in 2016, by an avowed extremist.
I realise that the whole debate surrounding the Brexit decision and its aftermath is very passionate, and that strong views are held on many sides of the debate.
The Shropshire Star wants to sell copy, but increasingly, the letters page in particular has become a vehicle for harsh views and unpleasant discourse – not only about Brexit, but also concerning religion, evolution and creation; indeed, I would argue that the letters page itself has become representational only of itself, and the limited number of correspondents who are published, the same names keep appearing again and again.
Of course, the Shropshire Star can only select for publication from the submissions it receives, but the wider and moderate voices are simply not being heard, and the debate has become toxic and distressing, to the point where I will probably discontinue my purchase of the Star in 2018.
Above all, the Shropshire Star has a responsibility to reflect the whole community that it serves, and should be actively promoting a reasoned and polite debate about about those things that concern its readers, and not simply pandering to the views of those who merely seek an ill-informed rant which could be had at the bar of any pub in the land at the present.