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Words do matter in political discourse
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 Editor: Manteca Bulletin,
 I’m writing in response to Mike Killingsworth’s letter on Friday which criticized columnist Larry Elder.
Conservative columnists Larry Elder and L. Brent Bozell III, published in the Bulletin, are two of my least favorite writers. I usually don’t enjoy reading their columns. Both writers engage in hyperbole, create straw-man arguments, cherry-pick facts, and demonize liberals. Killingsworth’s letter detailed some examples of these tactics used in Elder’s latest column.
 I agree with the gist of Killingsworth’s argument and assertions. However, in expressing his contempt for Elder’s machinations, Killingsworth crossed the line (in my opinion) by using racially-charged language such as “Step and Fetch It”, “Uncle Tom”, and “massa” Trump. This only detracts from his valid points. These terms, more prevalent in the 1960s and 1970s to ridicule establishment-supporting or conservative Blacks by more radical black groups or other liberal organizations, should now have no place in a letter that emphasizes the importance of facts, logic, and truth. Using racially insensitive insults to personally slam a black writer is both unnecessary and offensive.
I am not calling Killingsworth a racist since I do not know what is in his heart or mind. But demeaning his letter with derogatory language that has such specifically racial negative connotations leads readers to conclude that he is bringing race into a place where condemning and refuting the opinions of Elder should be sufficient. A faulty opinion piece, whether conservative or liberal, with its misuse of facts or misconstruing of events, deserves to be challenged on its merits alone. The racial identity or background of the writer is immaterial. Let’s focus on ideas and opinions, not on insults and character assassination. Cheap shots do not bolster a good rebuttal, they only weaken it. Killingsworth made some excellent points about the importance and significance of a free press and its investigative responsibilities. I hate to see them overshadowed by a few regrettable word choices

Karen Pearsall