Newspapers are entitled to publish whatever letters to the editor they want. Sometimes these letters are useful and contain important reader insights; other times, they’re this letter from Joe Morgan, who thinks Montana State Rep. Amanda Curtis owes her constituents an explanation for a visit to Planned Parenthood she made when she was 16.
The letter, entitled “What did Curtis need Planned Parenthood for?” was published in the Helena Independent Record:
When reading state Rep. Amanda Curtis endorsing Melissa Romano for state superintendent of public instruction, I couldn’t help but remember Ms. Curtis as she was running against Steve Daines for U.S. Senate and something she said in a debate.
I remember Ms. Curtis and her defense of Planned Parenthood in one of her debates with Daines. I remember exactly what she said: When she was 16 and she had her first car and her first job, she also used Planned Parenthood to access health care.
I think Amanda needs to explain what she used Planned Parenthood for at 16 years of age.
For some reason Steve Daines remained silent on asking Amanda during the debate what she meant by that statement. Being’s Mr. Daines didn’t ask, I guess I will.
State Rep. Amanda Curtis, What did you mean by your debate statement when you were 16 and you had your first job and your first car, you used Planned Parenthood?
Could you please answer that, Rep. Curtis?
Joe, ya goddamn floor sandwich. Planned Parenthood offers a variety of essential health services to women, but even if Curtis did visit for an a-b-o-r-t-i-o-n, that’s none of your business. But the trouble isn’t Joe, necessarily, but the newspaper’s decision to use its presumably limited editorial space for such an asinine inquiry.
As the blog Intelligent Discontent points out:
It seems to us that there are two explanations, and either or both could be true (it’s probably both). First, editors at the IR share Mr. Morgan’s views and don’t mind vulgar, sexist attacks directed at female public figures. Second, the IR was trying to stir up controversy and get more hits by publishing the offensive letter. Either way, the IR has once again failed in the ethics of journalism by legitimizing a sexist attack and undermining the voice of a hardworking public servant simply because she’s a woman.
A letter to the editor is not, in fact, required to adhere to any journalistic ethics, but it IS worth being disturbed that at least one person on the paper’s editorial board said “Hmm, yes, Joe here makes a valid point.”
In any case, Curtis will not be granting Joe his request, no matter how politely he asks.