Most days, I love my job. But there are some days … not so much.
Most of the people I deal with are lovely and often quite funny. Some … not so much.
But you know what? That’s reality, and I deal with it. One of the ways I do that is to occasionally in this column provide somewhat snarky answers to questions and comments from readers.
Yeah, I’m a bit tired and cranky. Blame the being who thinks I need to be up at 3 a.m.
♠ Why do you hate Republicans so much?
What was it Willie Sutton supposedly said (but didn’t)? Because that’s where the money is. If only I could turn this into a business … it’s not like I’m getting paid for writing. And I still can’t get paid to pet cats, dammit.
Seriously, I don’t hate Republicans. I detest the politics practiced today as a whole, regardless of what side of the aisle it runs … just ask me how I feel about Nancy Pelosi (an embarrassment in soooo many ways). One of the biggest problems today is hyper-partisanship, fed by the growing insularity of confirmation bias. My political beliefs, like those of a great many people, are all over the map, and I don’t care which party does what as long as the job is done (which it hasn’t been for years). I despise talking points and straight-line voting because they imply that party is more important than country, and that you don’t need to think for yourself.
No Labels has the right idea. When we get back to being willing to compromise and work together for the greater good, rather than putting politics over public service, maybe I’ll feel a little better about the world.
But I’m not holding my breath.
♠ Why do you hate Trump so much? Is it because you hate Republicans? Don’t you realize Americans must not question the president?
Again, I don’t hate Republicans. Any antipathy I may hold for Donald Trump has nothing to do with his politics (which change by the hour), and everything to do with him as a person and his demonstrated lack of respect and necessary knowledge for the office he holds, as shown in his tweets, interviews, etc. And regardless of party, a leader must be questioned if he does, or is legitimately (i.e., based on evidence rather than rumors) suspected of doing, questionable things. Like, oh, I dunno, Richard Nixon or Bill Clinton.
♠ But you won’t print Republican letters, you big meanie!
I do, but not as many as I’d like to print (and some of those anti-Trump letters are by Republicans, by the way). You might try answering your messages every once in a while. When I call or email, respond.
Letters with statements of fact are fact-checked (and remember, since it’s just me now, it can take a while), and those that don’t pass are not printed. And no, I don’t have time to contact every person whose letter we can’t print, nor would I willingly sign up for that abuse. I’d never get anything done, and the furry one would be highly peeved about that. His “highly peeved” tends to end in bloodshed.
There are ways of writing around documentation issues. If the president, for example, says something that has been proved false, you can’t state it as fact. You can, however, quote him or attribute the statement to him. Don’t be surprised, though, when other letter-writers point out that it’s been proved false.
Other reasons letters might not get in: no contact information (at least give me a phone number or valid email address), word salad (me having to pass it around to multiple people to try and figure out what you’re trying to say is a bad sign), obscenities, illegibility, personal attacks on specific letter-writers (no, you can’t say that letter-writer is an idiot; whole groups, on the other hand, I might let slide), threats, convicting people in print, too early (only one letter per 30 days), etc.
And then there’s this: Several times I’ve found myself explaining our policies and encouraging callers to write a letter, only to be told, “Well, I shouldn’t have to write a letter,” or “That’s too much work.”
Really? If the letters don’t exist, I can’t print them.
I’ve also been told that liberals are too scary and threatening, so signing your name to a letter is just asking to be attacked. So we should only talk about puppies and rainbows for you to get the courage to stand behind your words? I know of several letter-writers on both sides who’ve gotten nasty messages after a letter, but still they persist because they believe in something. For years, somebody in Alabama has been sending liberal letter-writers hate mail and sometimes calling them anytime they dared defend Barack Obama. If they persevered, it shouldn’t be an issue for conservatives to do the same.
Last month, reader Ken Miller of Little Rock had a good (and correct) hypothesis for the presence of so many anti-Trump letters: “Regardless of political leanings of those selecting letters to be published, I suspect that received quantities of caustic letters about any person or issue will nearly always exceed the number of those containing favorable comment, for it is simply human nature to quietly accept that which we like, but burst into criticism of that which we don’t.”
Which is one good reason a quota system for the page would never work … not that I’ll convince some people of that (and their idea of such a system tends to be weighted very heavily toward their beliefs). In their reality, they never have to see, hear or read anything with which they disagree. Too bad that’s not the reality the rest of us occupy.
One of the side effects of partisan politics is the loss of perspective, which is why I get flak from Republicans and Democrats (gee, I think that means I’m doing something right). Yep, I’ve gotten letters accusing me, in very colorful terms, of being a Republican hack, just as I’ve gotten letters from people who are positive I’m a flaming liberal. Yet I’m no party animal, and won’t be until the parties decide to eschew petty politics.
Soooo … I’m guessing never.
Wait … is there a party for cats?
Should we talk about this?
Where to even start? I think my brain may explode if I start unpacking it. Oy.
I’d much rather deal with this one.
Tommy Lee Jones is gonna be really busy.
And Lord am I ready to get back to talking about words …