"Unsubstantiated screeds & hateful letters . . . aren't welcome."

Last week we wrote about an opinion piece Lee Webster published in the Wausau Daily Herald. Webster directs the Family Research Institute's Wausau office, and he argued that Wisconsinites should vote yes on the ban because gay couples make bad parents.

Of course, Webster is flat-out wrong, and he doesn't have solid social science to support him.

But you don't have to take our word for it.

On Sunday, the Daily Herald's opinion page editor, Peter J. Wasson, wrote that Webster's piece failed to meet basic credibility criteria. He also said the paper would never again publish an argument based on such unfounded information:
The long and short of it is that we're not going to relax our standards. ... We're not going to publish columns like Webster's again.

This is an emotional issue for people on both sides. Letters to the editor expressing emotional points of view are welcome.

But unsubstantiated screeds and hateful letters that don't propel the discussion forward aren't welcome.

The editorial page's job is to generate discussion so that our community can arrive at solutions to our mutual problems and resolve the differences that separate us.

As my colleague Rob Bignell at The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, Calif., recently wrote, "Letters that use stereotypes and personal attacks undercut this purpose and erode the newspaper's credibility."
This commentary was written only after Wasson asked for readers to offer their input about how the paper should cover this debate. The editorial has more, including readers' comments.

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