Column: From Cowichan to Virginia: having a big voice

Sometimes I wonder if we're just shouting into the void.

With the advent of the internet, we get more immediate feedback now from things we publish in the newspaper than ever before.

This is both good and bad, of course. The internet is a very reactive, but not necessarily thoughtful, place.

Nevertheless, sometimes I wonder if we’re just shouting into the void. The internet is vast, after all, and we occupy but a tiny dot, not even a corner, of it.

And then I’ll hear from someone who lives nowhere near the Cowichan Valley about one of our stories or letters or columns, and I’m amazed all over again just how far and wide our content can now travel and how many people it can reach.

This happened last month a couple of times. One gentleman from New Zealand wrote a letter to the paper in response to several letters he had seen in our publication about proportional representation as a form of government. He, as someone from a country that uses proportional representation, wanted to tell people about how well it can work.

But even cooler was hearing from Marsha Todd, who wrote a letter to us that the Citizen then published in response to a column about dog breeds, and pit bulls in particular, written by our own Robert Barron.

Todd’s letter has apparently travelled far beyond the Cowichan Valley — all the way to PETA’s head office in Norfolk, Virginia, in fact. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is an international animal rights organization, and Todd was shocked to get a thank you card from them in response to her letter.

It said:

Dear Marsha,

Thank you for your moving editorial, “You can’t totally take the breed out of the dog”.

We agree with you, and are grateful for your powerful voice of reason and compassion!

With Admiration,

Teresa Chagrin and the PETA Staff

Todd also said PETA was considering forwarding the letter to the governors of every state in the U.S. to promote legislation to ban the breed, and possibly using it in their ongoing campaign for mandatory spaying, and neutering of pit bulls (the organization offers free spaying and neutering). Wow!

That’s a big footprint. Indeed, PETA is correct about the ability of a single person, or news organization, to have a powerful voice.

It’s a reminder to try to use it as wisely as we can.

andrea