“In Order To Discourage Confusions….”
This low and self-indulgent art form [i.e. Letters to the Editor] boasts few masterpieces, and even those have the miniature character of heads carved on cherry-stones. A personal favorite of mine is the one sent to the London Times in February 1959, signed jointly by Earl Russell, a.k.a. Bertrand Russell, the philosopher and gadfly, and Lord Russell of Liverpool, a jurist who had helped prosecute the Nazi defendants at Nuremberg. After the latter’s book The Scourge of the Swastika became a bestseller, people started getting the two aristocratic Russells mixed up, leading to the joint letter, whose text read, in its entirety: “In order to discourage confusions which have been constantly occurring, we beg herewith to state that neither of us is the other.” There you have a perfect letter to the editor: memorable, socially useful, and brief. [Straggler 44 by John Derbyshire; National Review, July 3rd 2006.]
In the spirit of those two noble lords I beg herewith to state, in regard to the Jonathan Derbyshire who was arrested after a shootout with cops on Staten Island this morning, that neither of us is the other.