The following letter appeared in this morning’s (26 March) Opelika-Auburn News:
To the Editor:
I was startled to see Rudy Tidwell’s response Feb. 27 to a letter of mine that was published in your paper four years ago.
Tidwell refers to my letter as though it were recent; he dates it Dec. 19, but gives no year. In fact there were two letters from me on the subject of Tidwell’s views on “Invictus,” one published in your pages on Feb. 22, 2004, and the other on Dec. 23, 2004. I haven’t written anything on the topic since then. Moreover, Tidwell already responded in print to both letters at the time (whether on the letters page or in his column I forget); so I’m not sure why he’s resurrecting this old dispute.
Four years having passed, I unsurprisingly no longer have handy the original column by Tidwell that I was criticizing at the time, and your readers don’t have access to it either. (It doesn’t seem to be on the Internet.) So it’s unclear how they can be expected to judge between my description of it (as an insult to the author of “Invictus”) and Tidwell’s description of it (as merely a disagreement with the poem’s ideas).
I do recall, however, that Tidwell described anyone who agreed with the message of “Invictus” as “in a worse condition than an imbecile,” a memorable phrase which I may perhaps be forgiven for interpreting as an insult to the author (as well as to many others), and not merely as a criticism of the author’s ideas.
Roderick T. Long