Luka Herald
Wednesday, April 25th, 301 AP.

Letter to the Luka Herald Editor

FROM: Chancellor Claude Gentry, Kras, Western Zartania
DATE: 24 April 301AP (1365 ZC)

Dear Sir or Madam,

This is in reply to the letter that appeared in your editorial column on Monday, 23 April, titled "Zartanian Empire proves once again that it has bricks for brains." First, on behalf of the governments and people of Western Zartania and the Greater Zartanian Empire, I must protest the fact that the letter was published unsigned. Since the letter appeared in your newspaper unsigned by its author, the majority of people will assume that the letter represents the view held not by the author but by your publication. Such irresponsible publication practices may end up hurting not only sales of your respectable newspaper abroad, but may inadvertently end up damaging Utanian-Zartanian relations, given the final stab that the letter's author makes.

Secondly, as chancellor of the Republic of Western Zartania, I would like to take the time to address the concerns raised in the letter in an attempt to broaden the horizons of its author and those who think like him/her. The author states in the first sentence that "The Zartanian Empire has once again proven itself to be the land not of milk and honey, but of brutality and cruelty, of barbarity, feudalism and autocracy." While the Greater Zartanian Empire has never made an effort to hide the autocracy and somewhat feudal nature of its monarchy, it is not fair to characterize all Zartanians as "cruel and barbaric." There are, in fact, many of us, especially in Western Zartania, who cling to more republican ideals, but are willing to accept the framework of the monarchy that we live in. Your author also points to the "disgusting display recently" of the naval floggings in Haddock Cove. In this respect, I and the majority of the Western Zartanian government agree with the letter's author. Such floggings are inappropriate in current times, and the National Assembly has sent a letter to the Imperial Council of Ministers urging His Majesty to reconsider the punishment.

The letter's author then attempts to show his ignorance with the statement that "Rather than hold an election, like the rest of the country, the Mayor of the town will step into the street with a pistol, as will a challenger for the Mayoralty." While the second half of this sentence is correct, the first is not. In fact, general elections are illegal in the Greater Zartanian Empire, though they are allowed in limited capacities within the Republic of Western Zartania. Most towns in Western Zartania are governed primarily by a city council which elects a mayor from its own ranks. Therefore, the town's citizenry in reality has no say in who is mayor. In the Kingdom of Eastern Zartania, town and city mayors are appointed by the stek's governor-general, who is, in turn, appointed by the king.

Kharazhom is an anomaly, yes. They are the only town where leadership is still decided by a duel, as in the first days. However, in the past 97 years, there have only been eleven instances of either the mayor or challenger being killed. Therefore it is not "the survivor" that is "duly appointed mayor," but the person who emerges without a wound. That, in itself, made this year's evens that much more tragic. Over the past two years, several attempts have been put forward by the Western Zartanian National Assembly to outlaw the mayoral duel in Kharazhom. Each time, the motion is put to the people, who have inevitably voted it down. It is the will of the people of the town that their mayor be decided in this fashion. And as long as it remains the will of the people, and there are people in the town willing to participate in such an event, then there is nothing that the National Assembly, or the Zartanian Royal Government, can do to stop it, short of declaring martial law and "royalizing" the town. That is a step that we are not willing to take at this point.

Your letter's author then proceeds to say that "this barbaric ritual... demonstrates that the Zartanian Empire is... a state not worthy of [the] respect its actions in liberating Utania call for." Perhaps the author should reconsider whether he/she would be better off under the current Utanian administration where he/she is able to make such comments, or whether the former Guwimithian regime would be a better realm. Perhaps the author should look first toward dealing with Utania's own internal problems (corruption, poverty, lack of medicine, etc.), before pointing out another country's "flaws." Why does the author not attack the domestic problems afflicting his/her own country? Is it because it is easier to attack the traditions of a country far away to which one has never even visited? Who will be next? Will Christiana be criticized for the continuing attempts of its Parliament to change the flag? Will Westria be attacked for its strict adherence to neutrality, even at the cost of innocent lives? Will San Patricio be jabbed for its military blustering when its military is so evidently lacking in modern technology? Or is it simply Zartania that is to be the target? To the letter's author, these final words of advice: Wipe off your own dirty finger before pointing at ours.

[Comment from the Chief Editor:

While it is normal for this page to keep the length of letters to around 200-400 words, this is the first time we have ever received a complaint from a foreign state or province leader, so we have included this in the editorial page.

Editorial comment is written by senior members of the editorial staff and must receive approval from the Editorial Board of the newspaper. Consequently, all editorial comment IS the view of the newspaper, rightly or wrongly. It was felt that, given the closening of the relationship between Utania and Zartania, the facts in Kharazhom needed to be highlighted.

This newspaper does stand corrected on the matter of Zartanian elections.

However, this newspaper will not refrain from comment on the misdeeds or folly of other nations. Indeed, we regard it as our moral obligation as journalists to bring to the attention of the general public in Utania situations domestic and abroad that deserve attention. We do not see Christiana's constitutional changes as particularly threatening, we shall always focus on Westrian pacifism and look into the matter of San Patricio. But, we shall also remain committed to the issue of human rights abuses in the Zartanian Empire, and we applaud the efforts of reformers there.]

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©UPA, 301 AP.

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©Mike Ham, 2001. All rights reserved. No reproduction without, at least, tacit approval. ;-)