Tuesday, December 7, 2021
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HomeLetters to the EditorResponding to Michael Malthouse, By Mike Van Santvoord

Responding to Michael Malthouse, By Mike Van Santvoord

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I trust this email finds you well, post holidays.

The Grapevine has an open policy regarding submissions. I’m attaching a .pdf file of said policy for your reference.

Generally, we accept most everything that comes across our desk as long as it’s written by a local and maintains civility. Nothing slanderous or defamatory.

I view the Grapevine with its amalgam of local voices as a barometer of island life and perspective from week to week. My hope is that eyes, which may one day look back at our weekly, will deem what they see archived as authentic and true to the times. Certainly, we prefer to see submissions more literary in nature but these are unprecedented times we find ourselves in. When I took over the reins a couple of years back it was more to do with knitting club meetings and Concerts Denman Presents…type faire. The landscape has changed quite drastically in the past year and editorial decisions have definitely become more challenging as a result. 

Over the course of this pandemic, the Grapevine has predominantly featured information and updates to ever changing protocols in the interest of serving our community to the best of our capability. I recognize the responsibility the Grapevine has in keeping our readers as well informed as possible during these uncertain times. Most of this content has been provided free of charge. I’ll venture the split is 96/4% when compared to submissions presenting a counter narrative. That isn’t to say that counter narratives don’t exist. I will say that a few counter narrative pieces we have refused based on the tenor of the submission (making bold claims without citing references, speaking in absolutes and so forth) so there does exist a bar that needs clearing. 

As a local submitting a piece that was neither derogatory, nor defamatory I chose to accept Dr. Malthouse’s insert. Censorship by omission is too tinkery in my opinion. Despite understanding that printing it would lead to some blowback that I’d have to answer to (and it has) I chose to maintain the established consistency that comprises each issue. The aforementioned amalgam of island voices that submit their literary, Op/Ed, Letters to the Editor, promotional articles and cartoons each week. I haven’t an agenda. Nor do I know all the answers as some measure of guidance I draw on in making decisions on what goes to print vs not. I just feel that each week’s resultant issue is as authentic as can be with such an approach. Reflective of the times.

Expressing concerns about a fast tracked vaccine doesn’t necessarily equate to an anti-science stance to my mind. While you may feel it is a no-brainer to trust the science, not all feel the same wrt this vaccine. Malthouse’s insert submission is evidence to this. Not in existence even a month at this point, I think it stands to reason there will be some hesitancy in lining up for this shot. 

In surmising how the Grapevine might be open to running submissions which are racist or sexist in nature in the aftermath of this insert reveals the strength of your feelings on the matter but so too the weakness of the argument as I’m fairly certain these groups can be mutually exclusive. Besides, racist or sexist submissions wouldn’t meet Grapevine editorial standards intolerant of promoting hatred toward any individual or group based on sex, colour of skin or any other stilted reasoning. If this even needs saying.

To mention this vaccine in the same breath as the more proven and accepted polio, measles and smallpox vaccines shows the strength of your belief in this cure so I feel the reasoning of my response to your queries will likely lack in your estimate. However, as you’ve respectfully posed your queries, I respectfully reply.

I will offer that we are happy to accommodate anyone willing to counter Dr. Malthouse’s assertions. Whether through Op/ed or in the form of a Letter to the Editor. If you felt compelled to refute his claims with your understanding of the new COVID vaccine we’d be happy to provide you the space to do so.

Sincerely, Mike Van Santvoord

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