The Unedited Version

The joy of writing is in the editing.  It makes it a living breathing piece of art.  The responsibility of an editor is to carefully improve the writing without losing the meaning.  The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the Des Moines Register followed by a published edited version.  So was the message of this letter to the editor lost in the editing process?

The political process that led to the passage of law allowing the hunting mourning doves with lead shot is a prime example of circumventing the system to pass bad policy.  The enacted bill in question passed the Iowa Senate last year, but the only way it could pass the Iowa House was by setting aside the rules and replacing a raccoon hunting bill with the mourning dove bill on the House floor.

When the Natural Resource Commission (NRC) studied the issue and determined that lead shot should not be used for hunting mourning doves, thereby fulfilling its legal responsibility, the gun lobby howled.  Governor Branstad, who had originally stated that he would support the NRC’s decision reneged, stating that the Iowa Legislature, not a government agency should decide this issue.  So a joint resolution was drafted to go through the legislative process this year to determine if lead shot should be used.  Many Representatives in the House refused to focus on the lead issue, instead waived their fists declaring, “They usurped our power!”

The Iowa Senate studied the actual issue, lead shot, and determined not to bring it up for debate.  Senators received threats, even death threats by gun right’s advocates.  So the issue died and hunters would be required to use an alternative shot to hunt mourning doves.  The gun lobby howled once again and Governor Branstad changed his mind [again] about letting the legislature decide this issue and signed an executive order to appease the deep-pocketed gun lobby.

But, lead is poison.  The most vulnerable populations; unborn children, children and wildlife have now been put at greater risk as self-focused hunters are allowed to pump substantial amounts of lead into the environment for mourning dove hunting.  Many responsible and skilled hunters have voluntarily switched to using alternative shot.  After all, it costs about the same.  Why are so many hunters refusing to change – doggedly determined to dump toxic material into the environment for future generations to clean up?

Lead shot illustrates power of lobbyists

The political process that led to passage of a law allowing hunting of mourning doves with lead shot is a prime example of circumventing the system to pass bad policy.

The Iowa Natural Resource Commission (NRC) studied the issue and determined that lead shot should not be used for hunting mourning doves, thereby fulfilling its legal responsibility. The gun lobby howled. Gov. Terry Branstad, who had originally stated that he would support the NRC’s decision, reneged and said the Iowa Legislature, not a government agency, should decide this issue.

So a joint resolution was drafted to go through the legislative process this year to determine if lead shot should be used. The Iowa Senate studied the issue, lead shot, and determined not to bring it up for debate. So the issue died and hunters would be required to use an alternative shot to hunt mourning doves.

The gun lobby howled once again and Governor Branstad changed his mind (again) about letting the Legislature decide this issue and signed an executive order to appease the deep-pocketed gun lobby.

— Stephanie Fawkes-Lee, Des Moines

 

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4 Responses to The Unedited Version

  1. Jerry says:

    No, they did OK. I agree they turned your colorful letter into a black and white version of itself by omitting the parts about poison and death threats. But your opening line is about manipulating the process until it produces a certain result. The edited letter keeps that theme intact.

  2. Barbara says:

    One problem with the edited version is that people who haven’t been following the issue might not realize why forbidding lead shot matters–or how easily the problem could be avoided.

  3. Jorgen Rasmussen says:

    What is the difference between a letter to the editor and an op ed piece? Space is limited for letters, so I can understand the decision to cut. The result still contained the basic information about an endrun around the regular process and the governor responding to a lobbying group. Nonetheless, some interesting and useful information got cut. But would that have been more appropriate for an op ed piece? And would a submitted op ed piece have been published? I guess that main lesson is to make letters to the editor as concise as possible by deciding on the main point to communicate and not try to include interesting, but not essential, facts.

  4. I think that the line about the death threats is important because it shows just how serious the malipulation really was. It is also important to keep reminding the public just how deadly the lead shot really is.

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