How are you? If you are well, I am also well.
I hate open letters. Or — perhaps more accurately — I hate the modern form of them. There’s been a spate of them where the author takes either a moralising, condescending tone, assuming the didactic role of the teacher, or a sarcastic, condescending tone, assuming the role of chief rock-thrower in a city full of glass.
This is a shame because there’s no reason for open letters to be like this. As you know, I’m a fan of politics as a conversation between people who disagree but like each other as people. I want to see people who disagree on an issue tackle and explore issues together, rather than just having a weekly opportunity to tear each other apart.
Less Henderson v Marr and more Margaret and David, essentially.
On reflexion, I guess there’s no reason why an open letter format couldn’t be used in this way. Two intelligent people have a disagreement about an issue via open letter such that others look on and see what parts of the two positions they like and which parts they don’t. Further, it’s a good way to expand on ideas too complicated for the 140-character format of Twitter. This isn’t to be disparaging of Twitter — I think its limitations cause people to think about how communicating more succinctly (‘Had I had more time, I’d have written a shorter letter’, said Circero. Also captured by Shakespeare in Hamlet: ‘Brevity is […] wit’) — but some subjects require a bigger space.
Before I launch into a lengthy exploration of our conversation on Twitter — about my conception of a ‘good conservative’ (which I have rather pretentiously and indulgently titled ‘Civilitatas Optimatum’, the Political Philosophy of the Elites) — it would be vulgar and ugly of me not to congratulate you on your exceptional coverage of the Royal Commission into Child Abuse. Your reporting of this issue has been sensitive, intelligent, and moving. I know that I would not have the personal strength to cope with these hearings and I am in awe of your capacity to do so. If there were any justice, you would walk home with a sack full of awards for those articles.