ICE: Evaluating Letters TR

In an early class we discussed the 10 Essential Components of a Letter to the Editor. In the days since, we’ve spent time looking for evidence of those components in actual letters.

Today, you’ll analyze the effectiveness of one letter from a batch of letters. But first, you’ll need to read the article the letters respond to.

“Yes” Is Better Than “No.”

Once you understand the arguments advanced by authors Michael Kimmel and Gloria Steinem, briefly scan the batch of letters devoted to this discussion of the attempt by colleges in California to reframe the debate about consensual sex from “No means no,” to “Yes means yes.”

The Letters to the Editor

Which one letter makes the most persuasive case for its author’s point of view? Which of the 10 essential components does the author use most effectively to make the case? Since many letters are very short, most components may be missing. Explain why their exclusion does not harm the letter writer’s argument, or why including those components might improve the argument’s effectiveness.

  1. Provide your analysis by publishing a Reply to this post.
  2. Before you begin to comment, identify the letter you’re responding to as in the Sample, number 3.
  3. I’m greentwinky, responding to Barbara Winslow’s letter (or Alexander Goldstein’s letter, or Jonathan Zimmerman’s letter, or Robert Batterson’s letter, or Dan Subotnik’s letter, or Peter Yates’s letter).
  4. Following that statement, refer to the author by his or her last name only; for example, “Winslow makes the false claim that . . . .”
  5. You have just 30 minutes to read the article, scan the letters, and respond to whichever letter you wish. Analyze one letter only.
  6. Your response is not a letter to the editor. It’s an evaluation of a letter. So you don’t have to include the 10 components in your Reply.

About davidbdale

Inventor of and sole practitioner of 299-word Very Short Novels. www.davidbdale.wordpress.com
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38 Responses to ICE: Evaluating Letters TR

  1. treehugger361comp says:

    I’m treehuger36 responding to Dan Subotnik’s Letter to the Editor. I throughly agree when he says that young women should promptly say “yes” when it is about sexual activities. Personally, I believe with the assumption of yes, it has more costly repercussions. Subotnik’s rebuttal with the original article saying that young women are incapable of saying no is ridiculous, and wrong.

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  2. aspiretoinspire1comp says:

    I’m aspiretoinspire responding to Dan Subotnik’s Letter to the Editor. My favorite part in Subotnik’s LTE is the fact that he points out the fact that the original article was written in the point of view of those whom the issue doesn’t really effect. Subotnik presents the generalized view of young females that the original authors suggested and refuted it with a “Shouldn’t we hear from those most effected” approach. The best part of it is, all of this information was presented in two sentences.

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  3. tobes1comp says:

    I am tobes and I’m responding to Jonathan Zimmerman’s letter, I agree with Zimmerman’s statement, “we wouldn’t need such a law if more sexual activity on our campuses occurred in the context of loving and committed relationships.” He’s correct in the sense that if sex occurred between two people who love each other, there wouldn’t be as many sexual assaults, but this isn’t a perfect world, obviously. Sex will happen between strangers as much as it happens between two people who know each other. Just because a law is passed does not change anything except the result of the sexual assault. There should be laws helping to prevent sexual assault, not just the outcome of it. We should help people understand that sex should have meaning, sexual assault could be prevented if people knew how special the act is. I completely understand Zimmerman’s point of view.

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  4. ipl371comp says:

    I am ipl37 and I am responding to Jonathan Zimmerman’s letter. I agree with his opinion about how people of our generation need to realize that sexual activity should occur in loving, committed relationships. Sexual violence can and does still occur in committed relationships, but it is much more likely to happen if they are two strangers. I disagree with Zimmerman’s statement that “we must rethink the meaning of sex itself.” We need to look at sex in a different view, but we do not need to rethink the meaning completely. Sex is a touchy, personal subject and it should be treated with the utmost amount of respect. There are a lot of people in this generation who simply believe that sex is just another activity and they have no feelings towards it at all.

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  5. fluffy1comp says:

    I am Fluffy responding to Barbara Winslow’s letter. Winslow makes a controversial statement that, “there has been a marked decline in sexual assaults”. By stating this, there is no proof that the assaults that were brought to court and proven innocent, were not in fact innocent. It is much more difficult for a court to determine if the “yes” was given or not. Rather than the jury having to prove if sex was denied. The new “yes” policy is no different than saying “no”.

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  6. mazda1comp says:

    I am responding to letter to the editor number three. Alexander Goldstein argues that, “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that it’s more likely to happen when two partners don’t know each other very well.” Although couples in love all around the world take part in sexual activities, most sexual activities in a college scene take place with people who really aren’t close. He then goes ahead and argues, ” Nor will any law correct for it.” By saying this, anybody who was standing strong behind this new law will have to think again. He is truthful, there is no way to completely stop sexual assaults, the only way would be to protect yourself. But by having laws about something that is almost impossible to prove because it’s always word of mouth with sexual assaults. He argues the original article by saying, “To solve the problem of sex at colleges, we must rethink the meaning of sex itself. The law will create more of a mess then there was before this law. He used great credentials, by stating that he is associated at a university. He used support and he made a claim. He wrote a well rounded letter to the editor.

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  7. frozen81comp says:

    I’m frozen8 writing in response to Jonathan Zimmerman. In his argument he states that there will be no law to end sexual violence on college campus’ around the country. Although requiring consent is a great way to start, this will always be an issue. The lack of proof of granting consent is a blurred line in these situations. The best way to prevent sexual violence is to take responsibility for one self and always have control of your actions. As young adults and the time period we live in, the importance and meaning of sex has seemed to be forgotten. Zimmerman states that sex is “more likely to happen when the two partners don’t know each other very well.” As a result, we see the increase of sexual violence in places such as colleges across the country.

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  8. gamer1comp says:

    Letter Number 4
    I’m gamer, responding to Robert Batterson’s letter. Although brief, Batterson makes a strong point in asking how the new law changes anything in a case of “he said, she said,” given the absence of “a witnessed , notarized statement of consent”? He explains that oral consent from either of the involved parties can be denied even after the fact. Batterson also quite clearly understands that the other party can object to the claims regardless of whether they said yes or no. He implies that “yes means yes” is actually just as flawed as “no means no” based on the premise that the new law in California is almost exactly the same as the old guidelines.

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  9. supafreak1comp says:

    I’m Supafreak(yes I am a super freak) and I am responding to Robert Batterson’s letter. In his letter to the editor, he made a valid argument by saying “he said, she said.” The law was changed, but avoided the main problem involving sexual assault. Anyone can say they were raped and anyone can say they that didn’t do it. The main issue is who is lying and who is telling the truth. Most sexual assault cases go down because of the “not enough evidence factor.” So how does this law protect a potential victim, or even the defendant. Robert Batterson’s letter puts out the main issue, and shows how this new law will not change anything.

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  10. bukowski1comp says:

    I am Bukowski responding to Robert Battersons letter. Robert mentions that the law does nothing to change the he said she said game when in fact it completely reverses the grounds of all rape cases. I hope that it is no surprise to anyone that there are numerous false accusations of rape that occur in the US every year, the justice system isn’t perfect and that is why they stand by the assumption “innocent until proven guilty.” This law goes against the basis of our justice system and should be eliminated as soon as possible.

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  11. vermster71comp says:

    Letter Number 5
    I’m Vermster and I am commenting on Dan Subotnik’s response to “Yes Means Yes”. He asserts his credentials by looking up information on the topic. He says that we need more info from younger women who are in college. He is missing a lot of the components needed for a good letter to the editor.

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  12. thedawg1comp says:

    I’m thedawg and I am commenting on Robert Batterson’s response to a recent post in the New York Times. Robert Batterson comments on Michael Kimmels’ ‘Yes is better than No’ article in the New York Times

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  13. thestayathomedad1comp says:

    Letter Number 4
    Im TheStayAtHomeDad responding to Robert Batterson’s letter. I believe his brief letter shatters the original articles argument.

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  14. munchkin1comp says:

    I’m munchkin, and I am responding to Jonathan Zimmerman’s letter. I agree with him when he says that sexual violence can still occur in longstanding relationships. Sure, we can make laws to try to prevent it from happening, but it won’t stop sexual assault all together. I do concur with Zimmerman when he says that we wouldn’t need a law at all if sexual activity happened more in a loving and committed relationship. However, I don’t think that we have to “rethink the meaning of sex itself”, we just have to realize that sex is a touchy subject and requires thought and meaning, at least to me anyway. The meaning of sex has definitely changed throughout the years, but I don’t think it has changed so much as to put emphasis on it. It is what it is.

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  15. bloo1comp says:

    Letter number 3
    I’m bloo, responding to Jonathan Zimmerman’s letter. Although he agrees with the California law, Zimmerman gets straight to the point and identifies the real problem to be the immoral priorities involved with sex itself. He acknowledges that this issue is not something that can be corrected by passing laws; they wouldn’t be necessary if people had the right intentions in the first place. Zimmerman sees the bigger predicament at hand, being the corruption of youth’s attitude towards sex. It’s called “making love,” so Zimmerman feels it should be done with someone you love and in a committed relationship with. Zimmerman’s letter sends the message to circumvent the problem entirely.

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    • bloo1comp says:

      (Please delete original reply and replace it with this one)

      Letter number 3
      I’m bloo, responding to Jonathan Zimmerman’s letter. Although he agrees with the California law requiring college students to have affirmative consent to sex, Zimmerman objects that the real problem to be the immoral priorities involved with having ex itself. He acknowledges that this issue is not something that can be corrected by passing laws and notes they wouldn’t be necessary if people had the right intentions in the first place. Zimmerman’s premise looks at the bigger predicament at hand, being the corruption of youth’s attitude towards sex. It’s called “making love,” so Zimmerman feels it should be done with someone you love and are in a committed relationship with. Even then, sexual violence can sometimes occur. The truth Zimmerman speaks of circumvents the problem entirely by rethinking the meaning of sex. Zimmerman ends his letter with the rhetorical flourish asking when it became okay for sex and love to be separated and what price students pay because of it. Beneath the letter are his credentials; Zimmerman is the author of a book coming out about sex-ed. Despite the fact that Zimmerman’s letter lacks the ten essential components and their inclusion might have slightly improved his argument’s effectiveness, I don’t think leaving them out really harmed it. There’s no citation of the article Zimmerman is responding to, even though its authors’ names are invoked, but I find it irrelevant because of how well-known the subject is. Clarification and support were not necessary because Zimmerman’s message was rather straightforward and innovative, without real data to back it up. There also isn’t a hopeful proposal or call to action, but Zimmerman’s concluding words were more about getting a point across on a touchy subject people are fully aware of. Ultimately, Zimmerman’s letter adds a whole other perspective to the matter.

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  16. tiger1comp says:

    I’m tiger1comp responding to Jonathan Zimmerman’s letter that is in agreement with affirmative consent discussed in Michael Kimmel and Gloria Steinem’s original article. Zimmerman takes a humanitarian aspect and views the majority of non consensual sex as a result of relationships with out love. Furthermore, the letter states that California’s new law can protect students from sexual violence. I believe the premise Zimmerman creates about the idea that non consensual sexual advances are not going to be stopped by laws and only corrected by identifying the real meaning of sex is his most effective component. Additionally, I think if there was no exclusion of information in the letter then Zimmerman could have reinforced his ideas with more claims and evidence. Zimmerman’s letter only had enough room to get his opinion across and I would have liked to have heard more about what was backing up his ideas.

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  17. ovechkin1comp says:

    I’m Ovechkin, responding to Barbra Winslow. Winslow identifies her credentials, along with sufficient support on improving the mind set related to the “Yes” Is Better Than “No” law. She doesn’t objectify, but illustrates one point in emphasizing the prevention of sexual assault. Although Winslow failed to use all 10 components, her writing wasn’t harmed.

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  18. velociraptor1comp says:

    I’m velociraptor, responding to Jonathan Zimmerman’s response to the article ” ‘Yes’ is better than ‘No’.” I feel that he makes the most persuasive case for the author’s point of view because he brings to light an issue that is very common in this day and age. Many students have the wrong idea about sex, and Zimmerman argues that we must rethink the meaning of sex to solve the problem of sexual violence. He does agree with California’s new law for its college students, but he feels the law wouldn’t be necessary if sexual activity occurred in the context of loving relationships. Zimmerman’s letter does not harm the article, but simply gives a different point of view on the whole issue.

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  19. mica1comp says:

    I am mica1comp responding Robert Batterson’s letter to the editor. He brings up a very strong point when he asks “how does the new law change anything in a case of “he said, she said”? I completely agree with the point he made in his article. With no third witness we are in the same place we have been with our original stance and rule of ‘no’ means ‘no.’ However Batterson fails to see that this new rule is not trying to change anything in the case of “he said, she said” it is just giving power back to the victims od sexual assult.

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  20. falooda1comp says:

    I’m falooda, responding to Robert Batterson’s letter. Batterson makes the logical conclusion of “how does this new law change anything in a case of ‘he said, she said?’.” Without a witness or actual proof of consent nothing will change. This shifts more of the burden onto the person giving their consent. To prove that they have given their consent is a difficult if not impossible thing to do.

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  21. garwin1comp says:

    I am garwin responding to Robert Batterson’s letter. Batterson makes the argument of “he said, she said,” which is exactly what the old law also fell short to. He understands that no matter if yes or no was said, the other party can object the claims. Batterson explains that oral consent from either party can be denied after the fact. His premise of the new law not being different from the first implies that “yes means yes” is unfortunately just as flawed as “no means no.” The objection Batterson offers to the original article proves that the new law in California is no better than the old guidelines.

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  22. mandragon1comp says:

    I’m mandragon, responding to Barbara Winslow’s letter. Winslow makes the most persuasive case for the author by effectively using her credentials to bolster the argument. She states that she is not only an alumnus but on the board of trustees for Antioch college, one such campus that had implemented the “Yes” is better than “No” policy. Having established this position, she claims that sexual assault in the area declined and furthermore that it was a student driven directive.

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  23. giantsfan1comp says:

    I’m giantsfan, responding to Jonathan Zimmerman’s letter. Zimmerman makes a wonderful point in his Letter to the Editor by saying it is less frequent for sexual assault to occur “within longstanding romantic unions.” I would have to agree with this statement because I also feel it is less likely for sexual assault to occur within a relationship, rather than with two partners who don’t know each other. Zimmerman also accepts the fact the sexual assault can occur no matter the circumstances. He states that if students on college campuses engaged in loving relationships instead of partaking in a one night stand, we wouldn’t need such a law. I would have to disagree with that statement because no matter the case, we will always need the law to defend those victimized by sexual assault.

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  24. syntaxattack1comp says:

    This is SyntaxAttack responding to Robert Batterson’s letter. Batterson fails to use most of the components we talked about in class effectively in his Letter to the editor. To start off, Betterson never mentions the article he is responding to (‘Yes’ Is Better Than ‘No’,” by Michael Kimmel and Gloria Steinem), only mentioning the authors names at the beginning of his letter. He also never mentions what makes him creditable to write the letter, but instead uses other people arguments (Charlene Muehlenhard and Lisa Hollabaugh) to back his claims. Batterson’s objection is that women don’t want to admit to consent, but even he mentions that “we need to hear directly from young women themselves”. This ‘call to action’ for young women is vaguely that, and does not give a clear suggestion toward fixing the problem. Overall, Batterson would have been more effective in his writing if he had given more personal objections toward the original article rather than shifting the burden onto others.

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  25. kai1comp says:

    I’m kai1comp, responding to Barbara Winslow’s letter. Winslow feels that we are taking it too far by putting in place the “yes means yes”, but I strongly disagree with her opinion. The people who are for this bill are not ignoring reality. They are hearing and seeing the events that unfold on college campuses and are trying to prevent them at whatever cost needed. Protection and prevention are the main reasons that we go through with legislations such as this. There are obvious times in which verbal and nonverbal communication can be used, but when it comes to sexual activity verbal responses should be required.

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  26. greentwinky1comp says:

    I am greentwinky, responding to Robert Batterson’s letter. Batterson calls to attention many very important points not addressed in the article. He gives no further information and no correction of the points in the letter, but he does question the effectiveness of the article and it’s flaws. Will this apply to both parties? Most people tend to believe that women are the only victims of sexual assault and this is not true. Also, how is one to know whether the accusation is true? It will be very hard to prove whether or not a person verbally consented with the word “yes” without a recording device, which would also be considered an intrusion of privacy. Batterson’s feedback on the article is very insightful, but provides no proposal for how to fix the situation.

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  27. dean1comp says:

    I’m Dean and I’m replying to Peter Yates letter because I believe that it’s most persuasive even if don’t particularly agree with him. Yates clearly states that even if people are opposed to the new “Yes means yes,” legislation that doesn’t neccessarily mean that they are opposed women’s equality, it can just mean that they don’t fully agree with the new law. Yates also says how he feels that even if there is a slight range of success with “Yes means yes,” that there will most likely be just as many failures that the school will still be blamed for. He makes his points clearly, stating that he thinks the law is somewhat impractical and that the law will leave a burden on schools while trying to enforce it, even though in the long run it should have results that justify the burden. And while I don’t agree with him, I believe that he did make a good argument it’s just my belief.

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  28. iglesias1comp says:

    Sample number 1.
    I’m Iglesias, responding to Barbara Winslow’s letter to the editor. Winslow, as an alumni to the Antioch College where this “Yes means Yes” rule was originally implicated, added to the overall purpose of the article and had very useful information. She uses credentials above what most people would have to judge this new law from being a person who has already had the chance to experience the effects of it. Her attitude also improves her writing because it is clear how enthusiastic she is about the change and shows how strongly she supports it. Winslow’s writing was far above the other letters to the editor. Though she did not use al ten of the suggested writing components, her piece was very clear and effective. She truly got the message she wanted across to the reader.

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  29. perry1comp says:

    I am perry, commenting on Jonathan Zimmerman’s letter, where he agrees with the “yes means yes” stance, but argues the need for such a law. Zimmerman begins by stating his partial objection to the article, and proceeds to clarify that while the law is a good step in the right direction, there should not even be a need for a law such as this. The author argues that sexual violence occurs more often between casual acquaintances than those in a relationship. I agree with this fact, and therefore agree that no laws will end sexual violence until we resolve the main issue, which is the separation of sex and love.
    In today’s society, it is rare to find students who can correctly articulate the true meaning of sex. it should be shared by two people that are in love. When couples decide to separate sex and love, they put themselves at a greater risk for coercion by their partner, and being forced to do something they do not feel comfortable doing. Until we can teach students that sex and love cannot be separated, any law requiring affirmative consent is useless. The less respect two partners have for each other, the greater the possibility for coerced sex, which could result in an act of sexual violence.
    Zimmerman uses numerous components of a successful letter to the editor. He effectively supports his objection, and offers readers a proposal and call to action for the future. He agrees that all is not lost, but we most understand the issue in order to correctly resolve it. I leave you with the idea that even if this law is passed and put into action nationwide, how can we be sure our rights are protected? How can one guarantee that our casual partner will not change their minds the next day, and therefore how are we left to prove that affirmation consent was given?

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  30. bagofchips1comp says:

    I’m BagOfChips, responding to Robert Batterson’s letter. Batterson makes an intriguing claim in light of California’s new Senate Bill, reminding us that this kind of law can still be avoided in spite of its legal presence. While the intention of this bill is good-willed, protection of college students whilst maintaining this sort of “official” fashion is challenging to say the least. Batterson may have had a sarcastic tone when saying a “witnessed, notarized statement of consent” was required to fix this problem, however it doesn’t seem that far-fetched considering how far we’ve come with sex laws. California can reinforce the protection of it’s students’ sexuality however they deem fit, but how long will it take before a witnessed, notarized contract between both parties is a reality? It doesn’t seem efficient, or realistic for that matter, to say the least.

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  31. eagles1comp says:

    Im eagles, responding to Robert Batterson’s letter. Batterson claims that the new bill passed in California is ill-equipped and does not have enough support to be enforced. I agree with Batterson’s statement, claiming that a third party must be in the room in order for their to be consent because with out one we are playing a case of “he said, she said.” There is no proof as to who said what, and many times an attacker can make his claims to what was actually said. Batterson uses a citation, along with an objection make in his point of view bold. The missing components does not harm Battersons claims because he is able to get his point across, persuading me to his ideas.

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    • eagles1comp says:

      Battersons essay could be much more effective if he could add more proof to his claims. By adding support to his objection could add more strength to his argument overall.

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  32. jaime1comp says:

    I’m jaime, responding to Peter Yates’s letter. In the letter Yates claims that people who oppose the “Yes is yes” legislation are not “opponents of of women’s equality” but he fails to recognize what happened at Antioch College. The article clearly mentions how vocal anti- feminists were. Yates argument would be much more effective he could provide proof that not all of the legislation’s opponents are anti-femisnist groups. He also fails to acknowledge the success that Antioch College had in lowering assault once the policy was in place, instead he implies the legislation be a burden on California. He does this without any proof or information backing up his belief that the legislation will cause damage to California instead of helping people.

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  33. Domia abr Wyrda says:

    Im Domia (I am male and yes i am aware that the [a] at the end implies that i am a female, shut up i am shorting my name for space), i am responding to PETER YATES letter to the editor, i enjoyed this letter becouse it deviated from the standard this is wrong or this is right reaction. yates replied that the new method is simply impractical, that colleges cant handle the rapid shift in methodology, and even if they do it right they will do it wrong, this rings home with me as i am apathetic on the issue.

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  34. sparky1comp says:

    I’m Sparky responding to Jonathan Zimmerman’s letter. He pretty much hits the nail right on the head by stating that no law will correct sexual violence. Nothing is going to stop it from happening and we see a trend where it occurs. Sexual violence is most common too happen when two people do not know each other, not long term committed relationships.

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  35. owllover1comp says:

    Letter number 4
    I’m owllover responding to Robert Batterson’s letter. Though very brief, Batterson makes an interesting point in asking, “absent a witnessed, notarized statement of consent, how does the new law change anything in a case of “he said, she said”?” Senate Bill 967, as the new “yes means yes” law is known in the Senate, appears to be an affective approach to changing the views behind consensual and nonconsensual sex. However, in the case of “he said, she said”, without a witness or any other form of proof, there would not be a way to discover if the victim was non-consenting. Batterson’s letter raises quite a few questions that the original article’s authors did not answer or possibly even consider.

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