From: Editor, The London Gazette
To: Jonathan Swift
Subj.: Your Submission
Dear Mr. Swift:
Thank you for your recent submission of "A Modest Proposal" to the Opinion pages of The London Gazette. The piece was a most interesting read. Unfortunately, we are unable to use it. We wish you well in finding a place for it elsewhere.
We normally do not respond to unsolicited submissions, but in this case I feel compelled to comment on your essay.
Had you read our submission guidelines, you would have seen that your piece far exceeds our usual limitation of 650 words for an op-ed. For our Sunday edition we do make an exception land accept slightly longer pieces. But "A Modest Proposal" exceeds. by many times, even that limit. Our readers are sophisticated, but even a provocative piecer finds their attention running thin after 600 words and they are ready to move on to the cricket scores.
I would normally suggest that you edit the piece down to our limit and re-submit it, but not in this case. "A Modest Proposal," at any length, can find no place in The Gazette. Here's why.
On the political spectrum, The Gazette is a conservative publication. We do not support what are usually called "populist" causes. But "A Modest Proposal" goes beyond the aberrant demands of the rabble.
Cannibalism?" Roasting babies? Did you really think that The Gazette would stoop so low as to promote cannibalism? We know the radicals demand better conditions for those at the lower end of the economic spectrum, but legalizing cannibalism as a method of reducing the size of households to a point where the family's income will feed everyone is beyond the pale. Were we to print your essay, our Anti-cannibalists would drop their subscriptions and withdraw their advertising. The Cannibalists are so poor that they can't afford to subscribe, and if they could they wouldn't because most of them can't read.
We would also be in trouble with the law for abetting your crusade by publishing it. While we may agree with you that fast breeding among the lower classes is the real problem, rather than the radical complaint that too much goes to the top one percent, we prefer to run articles that offer a more reasonable approach.
There is also the possibility that you write with tongue in cheek. We don't print satire, if that's what this is. If so, we suggest you utilize social media by posting it on a public bulletin board. Better yet, send it to the Manchester Spoof.
Ralph E. Shaffer is professor emeritus of history at Cal Poly Pomona.