Argen Marie Duncan
Rio Rancho Observer Editor

I’ve seen several points of confusion regarding letters to the editor come up lately, so it seems it’s time to address them.

I’ve had several requests to print letters to third parties lately.

We at the Observer are happy to be a forum for community discussion and give people a voice. It’s just that if you’ve written a letter to a specific public official, it doesn’t fit our format.

The Observer is written for the community at large, not one particular official. With third-party letters, most of our audience would be reading messages written for someone else. People could still understand the message, but it makes for an awkward read.

If you wrote to a given public official, you’re welcome to express the same thoughts in the Observer. You just need to adjust your letter so it speaks to the community at large instead of one person.

On another subject, if you send a letter through regular mail instead of email, that’s fine, but there may be significant delays in it getting to us.

The Observer staff is largely working from home these days. Our landlord had mail for all the companies in the building held at the post office, and his operations manager graciously picks all of it up twice a week.

This lessens possible spread of the novel coronavirus, but increases the time it takes to get hard-copy letters.

As another reminder, our policy limits letters to the editor and guest columns to 500 words. If you send a letter well over the limit, I’ll ask you to cut it.

We wouldn’t have room to print 800-word letters from everyone. I have to draw the line somewhere to give everyone equal chance and space to make their voice heard.

Furthermore, we don’t print or investigate anonymous letters.

Our nation’s founding fathers pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to the cause of liberty, and then signed the Declaration of Independence with their real names. That decision cost many of them everything but their sacred honor.

Given that sacrifice, fear of social snubbing doesn’t hold water as a reason for remaining anonymous. This is America. No one’s going to put you in jail or in front of a firing squad over a letter.

Attacking elected officials, public servants or anyone else — which is what unsigned letters usually do — from behind the veil of anonymity is cowardice and will not be printed.

If you hate your employer enough to write a critical letter about the organization, you need to find another job, not snipe at them in the paper and tell me you’re afraid of losing the job you hate.

If laws have been broken, that’s another matter — one for the proper enforcement agencies and, if criminal charges or civil complaints are filed, probably one for a news article.

But when it comes to opinion pieces, if you don’t have the courage to sign your real name, your letter has no credibility and I won’t print it.