Newspaper letters to the editor, like many social media sites, are frequently a disheartening exercise in discovering a none-too-bright local populace. Newspaper readers tend to show a bit more intellect with missives occasionally even reaching erudite, something that virtually never happens on, say, NextDoor.

The Letter to the Editor that follows is helpful in that it encapsulates a lot of arguments from the left. What I want to do is show why the sides are talking past each other, and this missive to the Oregonian provides a helpful starting point.  

Readers respond: Nostalgia for common sense –

What ever happened to free enterprise? Target sells clothes with rainbows during Pride Month because people buy them. End of story. If you don’t want clothes with rainbows, don’t buy them, (“Target pulls some LGBTQ+ merchandise after backlash, threats,” May 24).

This starts in a promising fashion because the left generally oppose many tenets of capitalism. “End of story” is problematic because it’s not even the beginning of the story. This is a much deeper issue, having to do with economic boycotts, “LGBTQ+” support by brands, and marketing. People who want to should be able to buy rainbow-colored apparel, but that’s not what this is about. 

What ever happened to medical decisions being made between a patient and their doctor? If you don’t want an abortion, don’t get one.

This is such a bad argument for convincing a pro-life person they’re wrong. If a person sees abortion as morally wrong, the intentional termination of a human life, then doctor-patient decision-making is at best a secondary consideration.  

What ever happened to freedom of speech? If you don’t like a book, don’t buy it. If you don’t want your child to read it, pay attention to what they are reading. Don’t keep my child from reading something you disapprove of.

Again, this a mischaracterization. Of course, a parent can direct what their own children read. Is anyone arguing against that? Parents’ rights is even the predominate framing of this issue from the right. The question, generally, is whether the books that are available and taught to kids in public schools are age appropriate and how much say parents should have in watching over that.

What ever happened to majority rule? If your side is in the minority, work on finding common ground. Don’t refuse to do the job you were elected to do, (“Republicans’ walkout of Oregon Senate threatens to kill hundreds of bills,” May 25).

Generally speaking, I think most voters agree that the GOP legislators should be in attendance. Are there reasons to deny a quorum and freeze the legislative process? I think there are, but they’re moral issues not business ones. That is to say, I objected strongly when the GOP walked out over the Democrat’s stupid cap-and-trade legislation. It was a bill that would have been bad for business and bad for Oregon. I have no doubt about that, and GOP was right to oppose it. Were they right to walk-out over it? I don’t think so. 

This go-around they’re walking out over a bill concerning abortion and so-called “gender-affirming” healthcare (that among other things removes requirements that parents be notified when their kids start taking hormones and such). I have a much harder time condemning legislators for walking out over issues of conscience. (Also, I again think the Democrats are wrong on this bill.) 

That the GOP has offered to come back and pass all bipartisan legislation sort of puts the lie to the idea that they’re holding up everything. They’re holding up a bill they find morally objectionable.

What ever happened to common sense? I wish I knew.

The other side says the exact same thing.