Calling letter-writers fascists crosses the line

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Re: “It’s Dems, not Trump, flirting with fascism,” by Ray Shamlin, July 19:

I do not call Donald Trump fascist  because of his “views.” Nor is he just anyone. He is president of the United States and  leader of the Republican Party, a small core of whom, unfortunately, appear to be in the early stages of a “brownshirts” rebellion.

Trump is fascist because he is the author of  despotism, acts of violence against our democracy and Constitution, several of which I named in my letter. There are more. His complete disregard for the rule of law is another.

In no way, given  Shamlin’s brief association with me, and my complete lack of activity against our constitutional form of government,  should he be given the opportunity to call me, or anyone else writing a letter to the editor about this President, fascist.

Newspapers encourage civil dialogue by protecting private people from these kinds of absurd tit-for-tat attacks. It just ends up discouraging writer input, particularly if people think they could become personal targets. You get a small, recurring letter-writing pool who people easily dismiss.

Shamlin could have rebutted my letter without making personal characterizations. Several of your conservative regulars do, by arguing the talking points, not by making personal statements.

It’s unfortunate that many people cannot formulate a thoughtful letter without a personal opponent these days, but there we are.

Newspapers routinely reject letters that are merely paper fights, just as they reserve the right to clean up bad language.

The News & Observer and other papers are very clear about about this policy.

A professional policy of not accepting egregious personal characterizations about private individuals in letters to the editor is just not that difficult to oversee.

Deborah A. Baro