I’ve read several of Courtney Stevens’s columns this fall and have generally disagreed with her point of view. This is fine, and is in fact part of a healthy democracy where individuals have the right to express their opinions. However, one of her more recent columns (“Immigration Policies Are Too Lenient,” Daily Nexus, Oct. 20, 2006) misleads readers, relies primarily on stereotypes and fails to even clarify what legislation she is criticizing.
For example, Stevens suggests that state tax dollars earmarked for welfare programs be used instead to support “national security at a time when we are sustaining daily damage in a war we weren’t prepared for.” National defense is the constitutional domain of the federal government; this suggestion is simply not logical. Furthermore, Stevens regularly uses the term liberal with some modifier like “elite” as if it is an epithet. This may pass as discourse on talk radio or cable news, but in print it comes across as a shallow stereotype or a naive insult hurled simply to fire up readers. Finally, and most egregiously, Stevens launches into her editorial without naming the piece of legislation or enumerating its specific legislative purposes. This is a logical fallacy known as “poisoning the well.” A journalist should, first and foremost, even in an opinion piece, be clear about the facts. It is disingenuous to the reader to criticize something that is not clearly defined in the first place.
As a critical reader, I want to express my displeasure that the Nexus and Stevens publish such poorly researched and supported editorials. Granted, many columns in the Nexus are poorly written fluff mired in mixed metaphors about topics like how to avoid being arrested in I.V. or roll a joint. However, I expect a little bit more substance from political writers and urge the Nexus and Stevens to focus less on rhetoric and more on intelligent persuasion.