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How to Write a Letter to the Editor

Guidelines for making your letter to the editor a powerful advocacy tool! It's easier than you think!

Why should I write a letter to the editor?

Letters to the editor are an effective way to convey a positive image of alternate sexual practices such as SM, polyamory and swinging. Letters help to de-stigmatize negative social myths and misconceptions about these types of practices. These letters help achieve the advocacy goals of NCSF because they:

  • Reach a large audience
  • Are monitored regularly by elected officials
  • Can introduce new information not addressed in a news article
  • Foster an impression that there is widespread support for or opposition to an issue

We also suggest that you send copies of letters that you write to members of Congress to your local newspaper editors. These letters are often published to highlight a specific issue in the editorial section.

Tips on Writing Letters to the Editor

  • Keep your letter short and on one subject. Newspapers typically have strict space limits for the editorial section and limited space. Keeping your letter short helps your chances of getting the letter published in its entirety, without important points being edited by the newspaper.

 

  • Make sure your letter is legible and words are spelled correctly. Your letter may be simple and short, but make sure that spelling is correct and handwriting (if typing or WP in not used) is legible.

 

  • Include your contact information. Newspapers sometimes call to verify a person's identity or address and will usually only publish letters with complete names and addresses. It is recommended that you also include a telephone number, if possible. Newspapers keep this information confidential and usually publish the person's name and city only.

 

  • Reference the publication and article. Many newspapers only print letters referencing a specific article. Include the specifics such as "As a concerned resident of Baltimore, I am writing in reference to your article in the latest issue of (insert publication name), dated July 23rd titled "SM and the Law."

 

  • Describe what you liked or didn't like about the article. NCSF sometimes includes a recommended response on important topics stating our position, which can be easily tailored to fit your personal use.

 

  • Personalize your opinion with the news article. Use examples that reference your own experience. Examples are: "As someone who has experienced job discrimination because of my alternative sexual practices, I feel strongly that·", or "As a long-time member of the polyamory community, I think·".

 

  • Frame yourself to establish common ground with the reader. We believe that it is important to frame yourself so readers relate to something you have in common with them. Frame yourself in terms of things like "parent, professional, involved member of my local community, proud U.S. citizen, former military officer, retired person, young person", or other ways that might enable you to relate to the readers as an individual they share something in common with. This also helps dispel the myth that alternative sexual expression is "wrong" or "abnormal."

 

  • Reference positive facts. Check out our recommended sound bites for the SM, swing and polyamory communities.

 

  • Stress the importance of national communities that promote safe and consensual sexual practices among adults through mentoring and education.

 

  • Focus on the issues, not the sexual practices. Try to focus the letter on violence and discrimination. The media already sensationalizes sexual activities and portrays them negatively most of the time. Try not to give them, or the radical right, any more ammunition than they already have by discussing your own sexual practices.

 

  • Point out that SM, swinging and polyamory is fun and enjoyable. The images and words depicted through the media about SM in particular are often negative and frightening to those who don't understand it. Words like "violence" are often associated with it wrongly, and the activities are frequently sensationalized and misrepresented. Discuss the caring relationships, intimacy, trust and communications aspects of these relationships whenever possible, stress that you like and enjoy it, and don't be afraid to mention that humor and laughter can also be part of these activities.

 

  • Send actual letters or faxes when possible. An actual letter or fax is generally given more weight by a publication than something received only by e-mail. If possible, send an actual letter by mail or send a fax in addition to the e-mail, particularly on issues of particular importance to you.

 

  • Send letters to community newspapers also. It's often much easier to get letters published in small publications than larger ones. If you're sending a response to a larger publication, copy the smaller newspapers as well.

 

  • Send letters to NCSF.  Be sure to send a copy of your letters to NCSF so we can track responses. Send to NCSF at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 1312 18th Street, NW, Suite102,  Washington, DC 20036.
SM Related Legal Research Resources

SM Related Legal Research Resources

  • Conducting SM Related Legal Research

    It is extremely important for members of NCSF constituent communities to understand the laws that may affect us.  Overview The law is interpreted – sometimes to our favor, and sometimes not. For example, while the NCSF firmly believes that consensual SM activity between adults is legal, there are those that have a differing opinion and will intentionally interpret the law in an unfavorable way. Therefore, it is extremely important for the SM-Leather-Fetish communities to have an understanding of the laws that may affect us. Knowing relevant laws will greatly assist our communities in safely organizing and maintaining SM-Leather-Fetish activities and functions. There are numerous laws, ordinances, and regulations at all levels of government - federal, state, regional, county and city. It's not easy to locate all of the laws that may affect us, but it's very important. You should make every attempt to thoroughly research your laws if your activities may come under the scrutiny of law enforcement or local authorities. In addition, NCSF recommends that thorough legal research should include consultation with a knowledgeable…






    Tags: Legal Legal Education
Jovanovic Case (Consent)

Jovanovic Case (Consent)

  • Affidavit of Susan Wright in Response to Affirmation in opposition to motion to file

    Affidavit of Susan Wright in Response to Affirmation in Opposition to Motion to File a Memorandum of Law Amicus Curiae   N.Y. Co. Ind. No 10938/96 Cal. No. 98-10474   1. I, Susan Wright, am the Executive Director of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) .   2. I write this affidavit in response to the DA's Brief in Opposition to the NCSF request to file an Amicus Curia…






    Tags: Legal Case Curiae
  • Affirmation of Michael Thomas Fois in response to opposition to motion to file

    SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK APPELLATE DIVISION: FIRST DEPARTMENT -----------------------------------------------------------------------X THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, Indictment No. Plaintiff-Respondent, 10938/96 -against-   OLIVER JOVANOVIC, Defendant-Appellant. -----------------------------------------------------------------------X   AFFIRMATION OF MICHAEL THOMAS FOIS IN RESPONSE TO OPPOSITION OF THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY TO MOTION TO FILE A MEMORANDUM OF LAW AMICUS CURIA Michael Thomas Fois, an attorney admitted to practice in front of this Court, affirms and…






    Tags: Legal Case
  • Affirmation in opposition to motion to file

    AFFIRMATION IN OPPOSITION TO MOTION TO FILE A -against- MEMORANDUM OF LAW   AMICUS CURIAE   SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK APPELLATE DIVISION: FIRST DEPARTMENT ------------------------------------------------------ THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK Respondent, AFFIRMATION IN OPPOSITION TO MOTION TO FILE A -against- MEMORANDUM OF LAW AMICUS CURIAE OLIVER JOVANOVIC, N.Y. Co. Ind. No. 10938/96 Defendant-Appellant. Cal. No. 98-10474 ------------------------------------------------------   MARK DWYER, an attorney duly…






    Tags: Legal Case
  • Memorandum of Law of Amicus Curiae, NCSF

    MEMORANDUM OF LAW OF AMICUS CURIAE  NATIONAL COALITION FOR SEXUAL FREEDOM  SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK APPELLATE DIVISION: FIRST DEPARTMENT ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------XTHE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, Indictment No. Plaintiff-Respondent, 10938/96-against- OLIVER JOVANOVIC, Defendant-Appellant.------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------X  MEMORANDUM OF LAW OF AMICUS CURIAE  NATIONAL COALITION FOR SEXUAL FREEDOM  PRELIMINARY STATEMENT   This brief is filed by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom ("NCSF") as amicus curiae. Defendant Oliver Jovanovic…






    Tags: Legal Case
  • Affirmation of Michael Thomas Fois

    AFFIRMATION OF MICHAEL THOMAS FOIS   SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK APPELLATE DIVISION: FIRST DEPARTMENT ----------------------------------------------------------------------- x THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, Indictment No. Plaintiff-Respondent, 10938/96   -against-   OLIVER JOVANOVIC, Defendant-Appellant. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- x       AFFIRMATION OF MICHAEL THOMAS FOIS     Michael Thomas Fois, an attorney admitted to practice in front of this Court, affirms and states under penalty of perjury,…






    Tags: Legal Case
  • Notice of motion requesting leave to file memorandum of Law as Amicus Curiae

    NOTICE OF MOTION REQUESTING LEAVE TO FILE MEMORANDUM OF LAW AS AMICUS CURIAE   SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK APPELLATE DIVISION: FIRST DEPARTMENT -----------------------------------------------------------------------X THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, Indictment No. Plaintiff-Respondent, 10938/ -against-   OLIVER JOVANOVIC, Defendant-Appellant. -----------------------------------------------------------------------X   NOTICE OF MOTION REQUESTING LEAVE TO FILE MEMORANDUM OF LAW AS AMICUS CURIAE   Please take notice that, Upon the annexed Affirmation of Michael…






    Tags: Legal Case
Barbara Nitke Case (CDA)

Barbara Nitke Case (CDA)

  • CDA Expert Testimony in the Barbara Nitke Case

    UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK ------------------------------------------------------------------X BARBARA NITKE, THE NATIONAL COALITION FOR SEXUAL FREEDOM, and THE NATIONAL COALITION FOR SEXUAL FREEDOM FOUNDATION, Plaintiffs, -against- JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, and THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA; Defendants. 01 Civ. 11476 (RMB) PLAINTIFFS' RESPONSES AND OBJECTIONS TO DEFENDANTS' FIRST SET OF INTERROGATORIES AND REQUEST FOR DOCUMENTS -------------------------------------------------------------------X   Plaintiffs Barbara Nitke ("Nitke") and…






    Tags: CDA Nitke
  • Govt Motion to Affirm Nitke and NCSF Reply (PDF)

    Govt Motion to Affirm Nitke 05-526 (pdf) (posted 3/2/06) NCSF Reply to Govt Motion to Affirm (doc) (posted 3/2/06)






    Tags: Civil_Rights CDA
  • Justices Reject Photographer's Appeal

    The Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal yesterday from a New York photographer who said that a federal decency law violated her First Amendment rights to post explicit pictures of sadomasochism and bondage on the Web, The Associated Press reported. The justices affirmed a decision by a special three-judge federal panel upholding the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which made it a crime to post obscene materials on the…






    Tags: Supreme Court Sadomasochism Decency Act
  • Supreme Court Affirms Lower Court's Ruling in Nitke Appeal Without Hearing Oral Arguments

    WASHINGTON, DC - The Supreme Court today denied an appeal by photographer Barbara Nitke and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) in the case of Nitke v. Gonzalez. The appeal challenged the constitutionality of the Communications Decency Act on the grounds that the obscenity provision of the CDA is overbroad. Last year, a three-judge panel in New York's Southern District had dismissed Nitke's lawsuit, ruling that there was "insufficient…






    Tags: Nightclub Supreme Court
  • Supreme Court Decision in the Communications Decency Act (CDA)

      March 20, 2006 - Washington D.C. Today the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the Federal District Court's decision in Barbara Nitke and NCSF v. Alberto Gonzales, the challenge to the Communications Decency Act, #01 CIV 11476 (RMB). The Supreme Court has affirmed the lower court's decision without hearing oral arguments, sending a clear signal that the court will not protect free speech rights when it comes to sexually explicit materials.…






    Tags: CDA Legal Supreme Court Nitke
  • Justices Pass on Internet Obscenity Case

    March 20,2006 | WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court turned back an appeal on Monday from a photographer who claimed a federal decency law violated her free-speech rights to post pictures of sadomasochistic sexual behavior on the Web. Justices affirmed a decision last year by a special three-judge federal panel upholding the 1996 law which makes it a crime to send obscenity over the Internet to children. The court could have…






    Tags: Legal Supreme Court
  • NCSF and Nitke vs. Gonzales Supreme Court Update

    March 3, 2006 - In documents filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Justice Department did not contest NCSF's assertion that NCSF's Communications Decency Act challenge is properly before the Supreme Court on direct appeal. That is a big step forward because that means both sides agree that the Supreme Court should rule on the merits of NCSF and Barbara Nitke's case, and not on any procedural grounds. The…






    Tags: CDA Nitke
  • Communications Decency Act (CDA) Lawsuit

    July 26, 2005 - New York, NY - A three judge panel has made a decision in the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom and acclaimed photographer Barbara Nitke's challenge against the Communications Decency Act (CDA) which criminalizes free speech on the Internet. According to the court, the plaintiffs presented "insufficient evidence" to support findings that the variation in community standards is substantial enough that protected speech is inhibited by the…






    Tags: CDA Nitke
  • Expert Witness Reports Submitted in Nitke v. Ashcroft

    New York, December 18, 2003 - The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom has submitted expert witness reports for their landmark Communications Decency Act lawsuit, Nitke v. Ashcroft (Case No. 01 Civ. 11476). John Wirenius, attorney for plaintiffs NCSF and photographer Barbara Nitke, provided 31 expert witness reports and witnesses who will testify before the three-judge panel for the Southern District of New York.   The expert witness reports support the…






    Tags: Nitke
Nea vs. Findlay Case

Nea vs. Findlay Case

  • Govt Motion to Affirm Nitke and NCSF Reply (PDF)

    Govt Motion to Affirm Nitke 05-526 (pdf) (posted 3/2/06) NCSF Reply to Govt Motion to Affirm (doc) (posted 3/2/06)






    Tags: Civil_Rights CDA
  • Case summary of Nea vs. Findlay

      Argued: March 31, 1998 Decided: June 25, 1998 Issue: Freedom of Speech -- Whether a law requiring the National Endowment for the Arts to consider "general standards of decency and respect for the diverse beliefs and values of the American public" before awarding grants to artistic projects is impermissibly viewpoint-based and unconstitutionally vague. Vote: 8-1; No, the law does not violate the First Amendment. Facts: In 1990, Congress amended…






    Tags: Legal
CDA Media Reports

CDA Media Reports

Media reports covering the Communications Decency Act lawsuit launched by co-plaintiffs NCSF and Barbara Nitke.

  • NEWSBYTES - December 19, 2001

    Net Obscenity Provisions Revocation Sought NEWSBYTES By David McGuire http://www.NEWSBYTES.com December 19, 2001, Washington, DC -- A small civil liberties group has asked a federal judge in New York to revoke what remains of an Internet pornography law that was gutted by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1997. In a complaint filed in a New York City Federal Court [http://www.USCourts.gov ] last week, the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom [https://ncsfreedom.org…






    Tags: Media News
  • San Francisco Bay Guardian - January 14, 2002

    Techsploitation By Annalee Newitz San Francisco Bay Guardian, January 14, 2002   HERE'S YET ANOTHER wacky fact you probably didn't know about the Communications Decency Act ole Bill Clinton signed into law way back in 1996: the good citizens of some small town in Arizona or southern California might have the power to send you to jail if they think the contents of your Web site are "obscene." The CDA…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • San Francisco Frontiers - January 23, 2002

    Communications Decency Act A Lingering Coup de Grace? By Tim Kingston   January 23, 2002   You may dimly recall the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which unsuccessfully attempted to define and proscribe "indecency" on the Internet. That law's legal core--its indecency provision--was immediately challenged and rapidly struck down as unconstitutional by free- and electronic-speech advocates. But, what many may not know is that another portion of the law, prohibiting…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • Ynot News - January 2, 2002

    Can David Beat Goliath in the Battle of Obscenity? Part 2   By Judd Handler   Ynot News, January 2, 2002   Last week's editorial featured an interview with John Wirenius, lead counsel for the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom and Barbara Nitke, an adult content photographer. Wirenius, on behalf of the NCSF and Nitke, filed a lawsuit on December 11 against Attorney General John Ashcroft seeking to overturn Internet…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • Ynot News - December 20, 2001

    Can David Beat Goliath in the Battle of Obscenity? By Judd Handler   Ynot News, December 20, 2001   One would think it would take the giants of the industry to force the government to rethink existing, not-applicable-to-the-Internet obscenity laws. On the contrary, the little players may be the ones who are successful in getting the federal government and the Supreme Court to throw out irrelevant local community standards when…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • Wired - December 12, 2001

    New Suit Targets Obscenity Law By Julia Scheeres Wired, December 12, 2001    A national organization that promotes sexual tolerance and an artist who photographs pictures of couples engaged in sadomasochism filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to overturn Internet obscenity laws. The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom and photographer Barbara Nitke argue that the obscenity provision of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) is so broad that it violates free speech.…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • Spectator Magazine - January 11, 2002

    STANDING UP TO BE COUNTED: BARBARA NITKE CHALLENGES JOHN ASHCROFT ON S/M AND INTERNET OBSCENITY By David Steinberg Spectator Magazine, January 11, 2002 "No matter how we're wired to express love, freedom is having the courage to be who we are." - Photographer/plaintiff Barbara Nitke On December 11, Barbara Nitke and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom brought suit in New York City's Federal District Court, seeking to have the…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • New York Press - August 28, 2002

    What's Obscene in Podunk By John Strausbaugh New York Press, August 28, 2002   Barbara Nitke is a well-known and much-seen photographer in her field. She's president of the New York Camera Club and teaches a course in darkroom technique at SVA. A nice, neat, sweet individual, she's the very very last person in New York City you'd suspect of being a pornographer. Which she's not, not exactly. She's more…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • New York Newsday - July 25 2005

    New York judges refuse to say Internet obscenity law is unconstitutional By LARRY NEUMEISTER Associated Press Writer, July 25, 2005, 7:58 PM EDT  NEW YORK -- A special three-judge federal panel on Monday refused to find unconstitutional a law making it a crime to send obscenity over the Internet to children. The Communications Decency Act of 1996 had been challenged by Barbara Nitke, a photographer who specializes in pictures of…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • New York Daily News - July 15, 2002

    Fotog vs. Feds in Obscenity Law: Files suit to keep photos on Web by Veronica Vera New York Daily News, July 15, 2002 Photographer Barbara Nitke is used to being behind the lens, but if legal matters heat up, she may soon find the government focusing on her. Nitke is ready to step into the foreground as the chief plantiff in Barbara Nitke and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • Nerve - December 11, 2001

    Nerve December 11, 2001 Photographer Barbara Nitke and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) filed a lawsuit today, claiming the Internet censorship provision of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) violates the First Amendment right to free speech. The provision stipulates that "local community standards" will judge whether or not something is indecent. Yet attorney John Wirenius argues that "By allowing the most restrictive jurisdiction to define what speech can…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • CNN - December 20, 2001

    Lawsuit targets last scraps of Net-obscenity law By Sam Costello (IDG News) CNN, December 20, 2001 The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) and artist Barbara Nitke have filed a lawsuit challenging the remaining provisions of the Communications Decency Act, much of which was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1997. The act, or CDA, was passed in 1996 and was the first U.S. law designed to allow…






    Tags: CDA Media
  • Adult Video News - February, 2002

    NCSF Tackles "Community Standards" For The Web By Mark Kernes Adult Video News, February Issue Washington, DC The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom may not be a household name, even in the adult entertainment industry, but if their recently-filed lawsuit succeeds, they may go down in history as the first group to secure Americans' core constitutional speech rights.  NCSF is based in the nation's capital [~] in fact, only a…






    Tags: Media CDA News
  • ABC News - July 29, 2002

    Love or Obscenity? S/M Photographer Challenges Internet Decency Standards By Dean Schabner ABCnews.com, July 29, 2002 When Barbara Nitke wanted to put her photographs of loving couples on the Internet, she thought she should check into the laws first. That's because Nitke's recent photographs have been focused on how some couples express their love through sado-masochism. What Nitke found after reading up on Internet law and talking to lawyers was…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • Govt Motion to Affirm Nitke and NCSF Reply (PDF)

    Govt Motion to Affirm Nitke 05-526 (pdf) (posted 3/2/06) NCSF Reply to Govt Motion to Affirm (doc) (posted 3/2/06)






    Tags: Civil_Rights CDA

To bring a SM-related legal case to our attention,
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