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Volume 68, Issue 53, Thursday, November 7, 2002

Opinion
 

Criticism affirms readership

Matthew Sheinberg
Opinion Columnist

Each week the opinion columnists give the readers at UH a variety of subjects to read about. Some columns are more sentimental, while others are controversial and meant to stir up emotions and opinions within our readers.

We get the readers to think about the events in the world and try to get them to think about the values they hold.

Over the last couple of months, my columns have received responses as varied as the topics on which I wrote. Sometimes I will get a letter of thanks from a reader, but more often than not I get criticism.

I am not complaining; actually, much the opposite. The more letters I receive, the more I know that people actually do read my column. The criticisms I get show me I have succeeded in stirring up feelings and controversy in the student body.

That is my ultimate goal. Aside from taking the opportunity to speak my opinions to the world, or at least the UH campus, I get satisfaction from seeing that people do not agree with me, and sometimes wish to debate my opinions.

From my first column criticism of the fetus photos that were on display in front of the library I received negative comments on my columns. One responder told me "it is presumptuous of (me) to think and write" my opinion that fetus photos would not, in fact, change anyone's mind.

For anyone to have the capability to write to a mass audience is presumptuous, but that is the joy of mass media. Now, more than ever, people can speak their minds. Some have the hope of gaining followers to their cause, while others, like me, merely want to stir up people's own opinions on any given subject.

Many people have written me and asked where I get the facts to back up my opinion. As a student of history, and just being the obsessive-compulsive person that I am, I make it a point to check and double-check that the information I have is correct, especially in regards to my columns on Israel.

Even with my care for facts, I recently got a letter telling me that I should either "rethink (my) major" or relearn my history because I do not have "any of (my) facts straight."

Because of the nature of the subject of the Middle East, I am careful to check the validity of any information I may use before I submit it to The Daily Cougar for publication. Despite the insults I get from time to time, I do enjoy getting readers' responses to my columns.

On the other hand, I do get an occasional letter with a positive response to my columns. Even a UH alumnus responded to me, thanking me for trying to promote athletic events at the University. At the same time, he made some points I did not make in my column because of space restrictions.

Readership at UH is diverse. The people who read and write for The Daily Cougar come from a wide variety of backgrounds.

While we have as many different opinions as we have cultures and backgrounds, we have the opportunity to voice our opinions thanks to the First Amendment. For that, despite all the criticisms I have received, I am grateful.

Sheinberg, a junior history major, 
can be reached at matthew.sheinberg@mail.uh.edu.

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