More Stephens on Williamson:
I’m sorry to have to write you, for two reasons. Sorry, first, that you have to endure having your character assailed and assassinated by people who rarely if ever read you and likely never met you. Sorry also that your hiring as a writer for The Atlantic has set off another censorious furor in media circles when surely there are more important subjects on this earth.
(1) "I'm sorry to have to write you" is the form of an apology, when you're going to give somebody pain but your position obliges you do to it, as in "As Tiffany's teacher, I'm sorry to have to inform you that she is a very unpleasant little girl." Since this is not your plan, why are you doing that? (2) You don't have to write Kevin D. Williamson in any way, as a matter of fact. If you did, publishing your letter in The Times isn't the best way to get to him. I'm sure you could just pop him an email. Moreover, it's clear that you're not writing him. You're writing me, as a subscriber to the paper. And I didn't ask you. (3) I don't think anybody is in fact assailing, still less assassinating, Williamson's character. I think they're complaining about the shit he writes for public consumption, which is his job, which, to be sure, makes him look as if he had a pretty bad character (it's unlikely somebody would try to hide his true character by saying he believes women who have abortions deserve the same punishment as criminal homicides). I must say I love the idea that people can't judge your writing unless they've met you. (4) So this column is to quiet the censorious furor in media circles by publishing a column on the subject, in a censorious tone, in The Times? Or is that what you meant in the first place? "I'm sorry my censoriousness obliges me to contribute another 800 words to the furor when I'm sure you and everybody else would prefer me to be writing about something important."