Opinions

Does the Gauntlet make you angry?

A tongue-in-cheek, seven step guide to complaint writing

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From time to time, you'll read something in the Gauntlet that'll make the phlegm curdle in your throat and your teeth gnash until your gums run red with steaming-hot bile. Under these circumstances, we ask that you write us what we in the biz like to call a "Letter to the Editor." There are no guarantees the Gauntlet will publish it, but if you follow these important steps, your chance for temporary fame among the 10 people who read Opinions weekly should improve.

1. If you disagree with an opinion columnist, state early and often in your letter that the writer "is clearly a Communist." There is no more cutting an insult in Alberta, and besides, it works for Report magazine. They are well-respected. Or start with something like, "Your writer's obvious Bolshevist leanings" or even better, "Your writer's Trotsky-esque mindset betrays..." Other readers of your letter will be swayed to your point of view by your clever McCarthyist red-baiting and complete misunderstanding of what is otherwise a theoretically sound political ideology. Note: If you are from out of province, the term "fascism" carries less negative connotations in Alberta than in any other province. Use sparingly.

2. If you think a news story is biased, accuse the writer of belonging to the Communist Party, and by extension, accuse the Editor-in-Chief and all staff members of subscribing to communism as well. Point out the staff's collectivist mindset. Be forceful and don't let rationality constrain you. Use all kinds of conspiratorial language such as, "What the Gauntlet wouldn't like you to know is" and "Clearly, this paper has a leftist bias..."

3. Use the word "agenda" a lot, to describe both the writer and the paper. It's devastating, and shows your reasonableness.

4. If you don't like a comic strip, you have two choices. You can either label the artist a communist, or attack his/her moral fibre. For example, any cartoonist depicting an image you are uncomfortable with can be called an immoral or unethical smut purveyor who has no business expressing ideas or creating images that are not equally desirable to all people. Additionally, critique their drawing ability unfairly, especially if you too cannot draw.

5. Don't like a photograph? Write a lengthy diatribe about the lack of professionalism at the Gauntlet. If a photo offends your sensibilities, you could accuse the photographer of peddling smut. A simpler solution is to attack the photographer for his/her suspected communist leanings and lead a movement to have the Gauntlet levy taken away.

6. If you dislike anything contained in the Gauntlet, be unreasonable. In your letter, ask that we be more representative and that we only publish stories or images that are acceptable and pleasing to you. Please don't be restrained by the absurdity of this request. Please forget that you are one of 20,000-odd students. We like challenges.

7. Use a healthy dose of sarcasm in your letter. Address the writer, artist or photographer in derisive tones which hide any shard of legitimacy in your argument behind cheap shots and snide remarks. If necessary, make fun of a writer's name, column name, photograph, gender or past contributions to the Gauntlet. Question their intelligence. Mock their discipline of study (if known). Make it a personal attack if you want to make your letter resonate with the offending contributor.

Name-calling, extremism and defamation have a proud history in this province. Why should you be any different?

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