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Editor:

The "Mailbox" section last week seemed particularly good (March 18). Each letter eloquently continued a discussion raised in a previous issue. And the writers took care to support their positions with facts while fair-mindedly acknowledging the opposing side. I wouldn't want to be in your shoes having to award that Bon Boniere sundae.

Contrast those letters with readers' comments that follow Times-Standard Web articles. I don't know why I read those comments. They are typically mean-spirited personal attacks, conveyed with dreadful spelling and grammar.

Sometimes I'll read a T-S article and think "Okay, no one should have anything cruel to say about this," but I'm always disappointed. For example, this comment about the rescue of the Sheriff's deputy whose car went into the Trinity: "Looks like the chp needs to give the sheriff deputy a ticket for unsafe speed. driving to fast for the conditions." (To be fair, most comments about that article were kudos to the rescuers.) More typical is this comment regarding the arrest of a suspected meth dealer: "WOW ... his mom just got a dui and know the kids are in your foot steps that really sick, the parents have no teeth, don't ask them to smile, and the little girl need a differnt place to live or she's just going to be a loser like the parents ... [sic]." It goes on; I couldn't finish it.

This discrepancy could be a result of the anonymity of cyber-commenting versus the need to sign a letter to the editor. Still, it rekindles my sense of "two Humboldts," an impression that developed when I moved here in 1990. That was the height of the timber wars and I remember writing to a friend, "I have never lived in such a polarized place."

It didn't end with the timber wars. This region has continued to be angrily divided over one issue or another ever since. This latest division (at least as it exists in my head, of people who can be respectful in their disagreements versus those who spew vitriol at any opportunity) saddens me. I have no thoughts as to solutions, or whether change is even desirable. I'm just putting this observation out there. And, I know, setting myself up for two kinds of responses.

Caren Potter, Fieldbrook

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