Mitt Romney, seen here in 1990, was tapped by Bain & Co. founder William… (Justine Schiavo / Boston…)
Each week, The Times' editorial and opinion pages receive a few thousand emails sent to email@example.com, most of which are spam, messages sent as part of letter-writing campaigns and more. After deleting those messages, I'm usually left with between 500 and 1,000 usable letters to the editor to consider for six weekly pages. Between 60 and 70 letters end up running in the paper during any given week.
Here is a snapshot of this week's mailbag:
767 usable letters were sent to firstname.lastname@example.org between 10 a.m. Friday, July 13, and 10 a.m. this past Friday.
74 readers weighed in on the 2012 presidential campaign, the week's most-discussed topic. Most of the letters commented on Mitt Romney's tenure as head of private equity group Bain Capital, a hot-button issue in the campaign.
23 letters discussed the Boy Scouts of America's ban on gay members.
9-9: The pro-con split among readers who took a clear position on the Boy Scouts' policy.
Most of the letters on the Romney-Obama tussle over the former Massachusetts governor's work at Bain weighed the political implications and the appropriateness of the president's strategy, which was reflected in the letters published on the topic this week. On Tuesday's letters page, reader Stephen Maitland-Lewis called President Obama's Bain-focused attacks "out of line" and defended private equity's role in the economy. Reader Arline George expressed disgust at the candidates' political volleying on Bain and warned that the attacks risked turning voters of all political stripes away from the polls this November. On the upcoming Sunday page, readers will react to The Times' July 19 article exploring Bain's early relationship with foreign investors.
As for the discussion on the Boy Scouts of America, the issue actually wasn't among the week's top drawers of letters (though 23 submissions is nothing to sneeze at). I noted the topic in this week's review for the simple reason that the pro-con split was exactly 50-50. The last few times I highlighted the distribution of opinions on a particular topic, the readers tended to fall decisively on one side; note past reviews on letters discussing the California bullet train and the conflict between a group of American nuns and the Vatican.
In a May 5 Postscript column, I speculated that such one-sided tallies probably have to do with the fact that "responses expressing anger tend to come in more quickly and in greater numbers than those that do not," a pattern reflected in the backlash against the Vatican for its theological admonishment of the nuns and the skepticism over the state's ability to build and successfully operate an expensive high-speed rail system. For the Boy Scouts, however, the backlash cut both ways -- against those who hope to change a private organization's religious values, and by readers who view the Scouts' policy as an anachronism. Such equal-opportunity umbrage may explain the even split.
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