Ink Out Loud: Pick up the mighty pen |

Ink Out Loud: Pick up the mighty pen

Randy wrote prolifically. He was a long-winded, hypocritical, opinionated, sometimes venomous curmudgeon from the deep South.

His letters to the editor caused a ruckus each week, but I gladly printed them for about seven years, until he died. I don’t recall ever agreeing with any of his views, but I respected him for taking the time and effort to write the letters. He abided by the guidelines, though he straddled the line more times than I can count.

Randy knew something many people don’t — he knew and exercised his rights.

He knew the First Amendment was written as a guarantee to Americans to protect basic freedoms of speech, press, religion, assembly and petition.

People called Randy a lot of names, but apathetic was not one of them.

He knew better than an irate woman who called me to let me know that an “article we printed about mountain lions was wrong.” She said news people “are all a bunch of idiots.”

I explained that what she read was not an article, but a letter to the editor that expressed one person’s opinion.

She angrily told me I should not print “stupid opinions like that.”

She supposed I was a hater of wildlife and asked what was wrong with me.

I explained that I had no horse in this race (nor lion). I simply wished to protect and promote the Constitutional rights of the letter writer.

This is a great country indeed. We are able to express ourselves in print. We are able to voice our opinions and allow our neighbors to know us.

After all, the newspaper is a mirror of the community it serves.

I suggested the woman write her own letter to the editor. “I’m not going to waste my time doing that,” she said, and promptly slammed the phone down.

She told me … I guess.

You know who she didn’t tell? The thousands of readers Randy reached.

A South Lake Tahoe resident came into the Tribune office this week with a handwritten letter to the editor. He said he usually reads the opinions and silently agrees or disagrees. This time he decided to write, because as Americans we should do that now and again. “It’s like voting,” he said.

For many Americans the First Amendment sits in plain sight, like a piece of exercise equipment purchased for the new year — never used for its intended purpose.

Maybe it’s time to remove the hanging laundry from the treadmill and get busy.

People stood together and fell apart in France last week. The aftermath of the vicious killings at Charlie Hebdo reverberated around the world.

Brainless brutes are trying to silence you because they know the pen really is mightier than the sword.

The reality is most of you are silencing yourselves. Speak up and write on.

Mandy Feder is the managing editor of the Tahoe Daily Tribune. She can be reached at 530-542-8006 or

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