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Mailbox, September/October 2003

Reader reactions to a special issue on corporate personhood.
By Kenneth Sutton
September/October 2003 9.1.03

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This batch of letters raised interesting concerns about the “Letters” department itself. Peter Schuman of New Brighton, Minnesota, wrote: “The May/June UU World has a number of commentaries on previous articles which were, I hope, edited to limit them to a single comment. If not, then a number of the comments represent a good deal too much ad hominem argument and a good deal too little argument on the topic.” We do edit letters for clarity, style, and length, but we strive never to sacrifice the substance of a letter.

But on the topic of ad hominem arguments, Tom Stites’s cover story (“How Corporations Became ‘Persons’,” May/June) provided an irresistible target for both praise and scorn. Responses ranged from “truly outstanding,” and “in the best tradition of the prophetic liberal faith” to “a fine example of old Soviet Agitprop,” “drivel,” and “scurrilous propaganda.” Several writers suggested that Tom would be happier living in North Korea or Cuba.

In asking, “Please give us another, more analytic, less religious and more balanced look at the issue of corporate power,” Robert K. David, of Boulder, Colorado, obliquely continues the conversations within the UUA about language and identity.

Robert J. Hansman of Punta Gorda Isles, Florida, sent along with his letter a copy of a note to his minister: “I take to my pen for a letter to the editor. But since he is himself the culprit I doubt it will go far.” Readers may be interested to learn that letters are selected for publication by the manuscript editor and senior editor. Even letters heaping scorn upon staff writers or our editorial decisions indicate that not only is someone reading the magazine, they care about what is in it. Always, we prefer letters that make a substantive point, pro or con, about the content of the magazine.

The corporate power articles were the subject of thirty-nine of the seventy-eight letters we received, quite a high percentage. Of these, twenty-five were complimenting us on the special issue.

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