Jordan Riak's Letter to the Editor of The Boston Herald Jordan Riak's Letter to the Editor of The Boston Herald
re: "Time to Spare the Ron," Mike Barnicle, Nov. 16
November 22, 2004

Dear Editor,

Mike Barnicle's comments on the recent Brookline Town Meeting's debate about spanking, and particularly his snide and defamatory remarks about Ron Goldman, were the low point in the debate -- about as low a point as one can get. Evidently, Mr. Barnicle believes that an ad hominem attack on the holder of an opinion is as good as, or better than, examining the issues being discussed on their merits. Perhaps he believes that the debate over whether or not children should be smacked warrants his spending as little as possible of his precious time. Or perhaps he just saw this as an easy opportunity to entertain a subset of readers who get a vicarious thrill out of watching a bully in action. That's pandering, not journalism.

I would like to offer some serious, if unsolicited, advice to The Boston Herald. Have a fact checker vet Mr. Barnicle's articles before they go to print. Also, have an attorney look at everything he submits in order to catch anything that's potentially libelous. He isn't a psychologist, you know, and he certainly isn't Mr. Goldman's psychologist. So, his claims about Mr. Goldman's alleged psychological defects could get both him and his employer into very serious trouble. Believe me, all laughing stops at the courthouse door.

Finally, I have some advice for Mike Barnicle. He can learn something about corporal punishment of children by reading Ron Goldman's resolution, "Article 22." It's a model of clear thinking, scholarly research and, not least of all, responsible citizenship. I have no doubt it will be adopted the next time it is introduced in Brookline, and subsequently be imitated in other forward-looking towns and cities across the nation. If Mr. Barnicle is a journalist worthy of the title, he'll recognize that when he reads it, and the next time he decides to write on the subject, he'll have the facts. It's never too late for a little honest homework. He can find "Article 22" online at

Jordan Riak, Exec. Dir.
Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education

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