As you may know, we sometimes write open letters to public figures when issues enter our realm that are not to our liking. So far, when we write an open letter for the blog, we actually send the letter to the recipient. Our first letter promoted interfaith tolerance and sensitivity and was a genuine plea for a positive outcome. We emailed that letter. Our second letter was…less genuine, but our position on the issue was transparent. We emailed that letter. Our third letter was full on satire – a la “The Colbert Report.” Aside from the postscript, our true feelings on the matter were not direct in the post. We certainly hope our readers enjoyed the letter and gathered we were, indeed, being sarcastic (oh, so sarcastic).
We have not yet emailed this letter.
Why the hesitation? Jax and I have been discussing the merits of sending the open letters to recipients. The first letter was sincere, so that was easy to send. Then second letter was snarky, but that whole situation was ridiculous and had no direct impact on policy or practice (not that we marginalize the power of indirect impact). So, that was easy to send. The issue addressed in the third letter, however, is serious with both legal and practical implications. Do we really want to send a satirical letter to the Governor of California, or other such public figures?
One the one hand, the tone of the letter accurately conveys our imperious attitude towards the issue – that the current situation is so unjust it mocks our justice system, if not our constitution. On the other hand, the letter doesn’t promote change or suggest a corrective course. As Jax put it, “…we are being humorously malicious and venting our frustration.” Are we missing a teachable moment and an opportunity to present a righteous (vs. self-righteous) resolution?
Let’s suppose we draft a second version of the letter to Governor Brown, one that is genuine and articulate, and we send that letter instead. Are we then being dishonest with our readers by posting one letter on the blog, but sending another to the public figure in question? We can probably figure out logistics that allow us to do both – post satire, but send honesty. However, if we do not intend to mail satire to public figures, should we then abandon the practice (of writing satirical open letters)?
What do you think readers? Your opinion matters!