Just so you know, most of what I write here today will be sarcastic. Those who call in thinking I’m serious will be laughed at, quite possibly in a high-pitched cackle (I can do a wicked Margaret Hamilton impression).
Some readers have asked what they can do to get their letters in, so for your edification, here are a few things we (that’d be Stephanie and me) just “love” … and yes, those are air quotes. Judging from columns by other letters editors throughout the country that I’ve read, it’s pretty obvious we’re not alone.
The Umpqua Community College shooting already has several such talking points attached to it. Pay no attention to the evidence that belies the idea that the college was a gun-free zone; ignore that concealed-carry permit holders could and did have guns on campus, thanks to an Oregon law that allows it. Of course, Oregon is oh-so-strict on its gun laws in general, requiring permits only for concealed-carry (How dare they require them at all???).
And sure, so ahead and continue using the second- and third-hand claim that the gunman was specifically targeting Christians despite the fact that there was reportedly at least one pagan and one agnostic in the group, as well as several others whose faith remains a mystery. Eyewitness accounts seem to agree that he asked people their religion before shooting them, but since people of faiths (or no faith) other than Christianity were also shot, that punches holes in that story.
Why let facts get in the way of a good rant? Besides, talking points coming from a special-interest group couldn’t possibly be wrong!
♥ Please repeat yourself. The constant sense of déjà vu keeps us hopping. Did I read this already? Didn’t we already run this? Oh, who cares? Print it!
♥ Be combative and harangue away! Why wait for a calm, rational explanation, or even pretend to be a human being? Just start with a bad attitude and crass vocabulary and bully away. I’m sure you can turn that “no” into a “heck, yeah” in no time, especially if you also use a pseudonym and insist that no edits be made.
While you’re at it, go ahead and joke about shooting other readers to save them from stupidity. It’s even better when you use just about every word not allowed on network television, because, gee, we can definitely print that in a family newspaper.
Civility is wildly overrated anyway.
♥ Libel is a great way to land on the Voices page, as are letters clearly written in anger and/or with a personal agenda. And don’t bother attributing anything or correctly quoting anyone; pesky facts just muck things up. We just love lawsuits and threats of lawsuits, as well as screaming calls from the offended and their attorneys.
It’s almost as much fun as taking my cat to the vet. (Sarcasm break here: If I didn’t mention it that day, ladies, I’m very sorry about the bloodshed. I’d like to say that Luke is also sorry, but …)
♥ Cite statistics you or your favored pundit just made up. I can’t tell you how much Stephanie and I love all those hours spent looking for numbers that exist only in your mind, especially since we gave up that mind-reading thing.
Definitely run with that claim that 92 percent of all mass shootings happen in gun-free zones, despite the acrobatics that have to be performed to reach that number, such as using a short time span and throwing out the mass shootings that don’t conform to the hypothesis. (And sure, you’ll find LOTS of independent research on this … go ahead … I’ll wait …)
Of COURSE you should listen to a guy who’s been repeatedly debunked and his research methods repudiated … and there was that matter of his creating another persona to defend himself on social media. Remember, we should always trust people with an agenda (Yep, trust Everytown for Gun Safety’s research, too … it couldn’t possibly be biased). Besides, proper research methods are passé.
Seriously, all we ask for on the Voices page is civility, facts and clear opinion. If you manage to elicit a few intentional chuckles, all the better (you might have noticed that I like to laugh).
We love our letter-writers, especially those who understand that we can’t print everything we get, whether letters or guest columns. Flattery (and/or chocolate) is appreciated, but being clear, concise and factual is absolutely worshiped (we might even compose a few songs about you!). At times our stock of letters is a little low, but that doesn’t mean we’ll stop fact-checking or weeding out overly hostile letters.
Keep on writing, and we’ll keep some space open for you!
I’ve said before that we all make mistakes, sometimes more than our share. For me, this is one of those times.
In last week’s column in the print edition, I mistakenly attributed a report containing a quote from Cathleen Kaveny of Boston College to U.S. News and World Report. While U.S. News did publish the story containing the quote on its website, it was actually written by Claire Galofaro and Rachel Zoll of The Associated Press.
In my haste, I neglected to double- check the byline (arrrgh!) in time for it to be corrected in the newspaper version of the column, but it was correctly attributed in my extended blog post. I truly regret the error.
No, nobody pointed it out, but I tend to feel guilty when I make such a careless mistake. Unless it’s when I’m baking. Most of those mistakes can be eaten.