Incivilities: Finally, a place to dump those letters to the editor

Media | Building/Consensus
An ex-girlfriend of mine once mentioned that her father had an idea to create a magazine that featured only letters-to-the-editor (it would be sold next to the coffee-table book about coffee tables, naturally). I’ve stopped trying to impress her now that she’s gotten married (not to mention some years passing) but I can still try to impress her father. Or get revenge by capitalizing on his idea.


That’s not quite the motivation behind my spinoff website Incivilities, but it exists to make public the most outrageous letters to the editor that would not otherwise published– in print or on the web.

The direct impulse for setting up this site was more mundane. I’m heading off tomorrow Media Giraffe Project 2006 conference, which organizer Bill Densmore of UMass-Amherst had kindly invited me to. In advance, I had I chatted yesterday with an online editor that I’ll be meeting there. I mused to him about about some of the repetitiveness of the session titles; he joked that his favorite was "Can MSM and citizens work together."

Oh, they can, but it’s often more fun when they don’t. Last week I read of TNR’s Lee Siegel’s insensitivity to insults and Keith Olbermann’s trigger fingers in responding to his taunters in kind.

Wouldn’t they be the wiser if they forwarded along the offending emails to a public dump?

Naturally I called it Incivilities. It’s everything this website is not. It’s a blog, hosted by Google’s Blogger service. It will have content exclusively submitted by outsiders, rather than produced by me. It will probably be updated regularly, maybe even daily. The content will be not be droll essays, but the very impassioned profane thoughts that the First Amendment was written to protect. And if it can follow the model of PostSecret, it will prove enormously popular and be on its way to bookhood.

Unlike Civilities, of course.