I got a Facebook message from someone I didn’t know the other day. Spam? A blog fan (hey, it happens)? Fan mail from some flounder? I clicked and saw three words, “You’re an idiot.”
Maybe being called an idiot by a total stranger isn’t a daily occurrence for you – unless you’re Mitt Romney. For me, it’s an avocational hazard as a blogger. In fact, “idiot” is one of the kinder things I’ve been called. All kinds of invective gets slung my way by an unending army of monkeys flinging flaming poop. I try to inflame passions when I write and sometimes it works. When it does, I’m never offended. I always take it as a badge of honor. It means I’ve done my job.
I got my first hate mail at 12 from a Letter to the Editor supporting protest permits for Nazis in Skokie, IL. Although I made it clear I abhorred their message I still took their side. It was all very First Amendmentish in an outraged, 12-year old sort of way.
That’s why I was surprised when a large envelope arrived at my house. It contained some of the vilest hate material you’re likely to have ever seen. They confused me at first. Why are they sending me stuff like this when I supported their position? It took me a few minutes to realize they were pissed off about my abhorrence to their cause, not the help with their permits.
The Nazis Burst My Bubble
In my defense, there was no explanatory note to make that clear. In my naïvety, I thought any hatemonger worth his salt would take the extra few minutes to clarify his position. It burst my bubble about just how incompetent these crackpots actually are. It turns out Nazis are tremendous imbeciles. Who knew?
We reported it to the FBI. The agent was under no such illusions. He told us matter-of-factly that he knew where the stuff came from and they were already under surveillance. No need to worry. Harmless crackpots who never hurt anyone. This was back in the days when people trusted what the FBI told them. We slept peacefully after that.
My average hate mail is usually a little more forthcoming about which idiotic thing I did or said. In my experience, pissed off people generally want to rant a little as long as they have your attention. But, to each his own.
Most of my hate mail is anonymous. My experience also shows that pissed off people like to be pissed off while hiding behind a veil of secrecy. It seems a bit cowardly to me. After all, I’m out there. I’m not hiding. I said what I said. I own it. Let the poop fall where it’s flung.
I love calling people out on this before going cordial on them. I never return fire with my Gatling poop gun. Usually they don’t come back, but several have been brave enough – if by brave you mean cowering behind a firewall. They’ve all explained their cowardice by saying they are afraid I’ll retaliate in some way. One suggested I might even come find his house and attack him. These seem like odd defenses coming from people who have just done that exact thing to me.
Props to the Idiot Man
I have to give Idiot Man props though. His name and picture were public. I could go to his page and try to divine why he might think me stupid. Maybe I am an idiot because I couldn’t figure it out.
Many of my Facebook friends defriend people who behave so boorishly. Some even post warnings about what they will tolerate before they pull the unfriend trigger. Some are a bit more draconian. They close accounts or open and close them serially to avoid the vitriol. Me, I never defriend anyone. People can say anything they want. The Frist Amendment only says you can speak freely. It has nary a word about the intelligence of that freedom. I actually view it as a sort of public service with the bonus of walking my talk. Besides, you can’t escape intemperate thoughts, words, and deeds. Trust me on this I’m as intemperate as the next crackpot.
So bring on your best invective. Call me anything you want – “idiot”, “moron”, “congenital imbecile” (yes, I’ve been called all of those). I’ve probably been insulted by better than the likes of you too. You can even throw a death threat or two at me because I’ve seen them before too. It’s all in a day’s work for a semi-pro rabble-rouser.
So Mr. Idiot Man, thanks for the letter.
I love feedback.
- Saturday hate mail-a-palooza, end of Q3 edition (dailykos.com)
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- We’ve got nothing but love for Mr Bingo’s brilliant new book of Hate Mail (itsnicethat.com)
- Black GOP mayor receives disturbing, racist hate mail, says it’s because she opposes Obama (thesunnews.typepad.com)
- You Are an Idiot…Doesn’t Get Much Worse (peanutjellysandwich.com)