One of the many aspects of journalism that have been done in by the internet are letters to columnists. There isn't space to run them, and besides, anyone who still has a job as a columnist at a newspaper is too grateful to be employed to risk the "Gone Fishin'" aspect of printing readers letters. They can hear their boss sneer, "You know, if you don't want to do your job, I can find someone who does..."
Oh, some papers still have comments section, but those are labor intensive, requiring more effort to pluck out the obscene, the racist, the crazy and unfathomable, than was required to write the piece itself. Most publish a few carefully-culled letters to the editor and call it a day.
While I do take a certain lepidopterist's interest in the wackier missives, lately I really make a sincere effort to not to read them at all, to delete my Spam filter without a glance. Because reading the stuff, well, it can make a boy sad. And if you react with anything bordering on the censure they deserve, half the time they'll go shrieking to your boss, showing off the boo-boo, complaining they've been ill-used. Because nobody cries like a bully. So why bother? What's the upside? Nobody learns, nobody changes.
Yesterday's column on Rev. Jim Wallis, and his commonsense observation that you can't follow both Jesus Christ and Donald Trump, drew more than the usual reaction. Which I was ready to ignore. But before 9 a.m. I got this, from regular reader Kevin Illia.
Neil, Good Morning! Wait for it! Wait for it! I am talking about the"Blow-Back" to your column. Please write about it. I can only imagine the type of comments you will receive. Have a Great Weekend! KevinHe sounded so excited. And he said "please." So I steeled myself and looked in the spam filter, and was not disappointed. The very first message,on the top of the page, was this all-caps bulletin from Robert Craig:
ANOTHER TYPICAL JEWISH JAMOKE TRYING TO APPEAR AN EXPERT, YET LACKING DATA. YOUR COHORTS, SCHIFF, SCHUMER, BLUMENTHAL,ET AL, COULD CARE LESS ABOUT THE JEWISH FAITH. THEY CRAVE NOTORIETY AND POWER. AND CONTROL. 60 % OF ALL JEWS DO NOT ATTEND THE SYNAGOGUE ON A REGULAR BASIS. GET A JOB THAT SUITS YOUR LITTLE, FEEBLE,INDOCTRINATED BRAIN. TRY THE POST OFFICE OR AMTRAK IMBECILE. MORE AND MORE SCUM BAGS FROM THE LEFT ARE APPEARING IN THE SUNTIMES. REALLY SAD.Yes, a lack of statistics regarding synagogue attendance, that is the germane point here. Is that enough? One more. Okay. Move to the next one, from Jim Courchene, who to his credit can use the shift key:
Not sure if you were able to catch the best speech ever given yesterday by your President. Just have to ask when your hatred of this great man and the millions of voters who have elected our leader and who has done so much good for our country is going to end. God bless you and hope you can tone down your hatred in the future. It has been many years that you continue to belittle and shove you hateful opinions down your Sun Times readers throat.
Have a good day and I like to see you stop such hateful writtings one day. Going to be 5 more years and I feel you may loose your sanity all together like all your violent hateful protesters that create havoc across our country.
JimHe's referring to the repulsive hate speech Trump gave in Minneapolis, where he bragged about turning away refugees and slurred Ilhan Omar, the congresswoman from Minneapolis who has the audacity to insist on being both Muslim and American. As a matter of fact, I did watch parts of it, sickened and thinking of Orwell's "1984," and the cinema audience cheering while the refugee boat is bombed in a newsreel.
There are worse—mean, vindictive, throwing the old mud—but I don't want to give them the compliment of attention, and will leave those to your imagination.
Happy Kevin? You no doubt see why I'm usually content to leave them in the filter, unread and answered. Why go to the trouble? And it's only fair; they never consider what I have to say—failure to evaluate the world around you is how a person ends up supporting Donald Trump. I don't expect reality to ever dawn; to move forward, our nation will have to go around them, or over them, with them wrapped around our ankles, crying all the while, they way they did for eight years while Barack Obama tried to help them get health insurance. Though frankly, that is, as Jim suggests, probably five years away, at least. This can't be easy, and if you imagine we're near the end, think again.