When you write commentary for a living, hate mail’s part of the gig. Not only that, it means you’re doing it right. One of my favorite quotes on writing opinion is, “If half the readers aren’t mad at me at any given point in time, I’m not doing my job.” It’s my mantra, and lately I’ve clearly been putting in some overtime.
The outrage sparked up after my column asking Santa if I could slap Kellyanne Conway. One reader called it misogynistic (it wasn’t — get a dictionary), and another said I was advocating violence (I wasn’t — borrow the dictionary and look up “satire”) and declared it “hate speech.” (Oh, please.) He was so outraged by my response — “If you don’t like my column, don’t read it” — that he wrote a letter to The Enterprise editor announcing that he was cancelling his subscription.
Dude probably tore out his car radio when he discovered a jazz channel. He hates jazz! (There’s this button… you can forward to the next channel. But… whatever.)
Then this little turd landed in my inbox: “Please cancel our subscription… I can no longer stomach your news and editorial. She is repulsive and I do not know why you do not request that she clean up her language. I guess the Davis editorial board does not have the backbone to do it. She can have her views but to allow her to be so vulgar is beyond me.”
I have no idea what she’s talking about. Vulgar? I guess my concept of vulgarity is different from other people’s. I think a presidential candidate saying he’s entitled to grab women by the crotch is far more vulgar than an occasional “WTF,” but that’s just me.
Then last Friday, my boss grumbles that two people canceled their subscriptions because “Debra is so mean.” In Charley-speak, this means “You suck.” That same day, I got this impressive letter to the editor, from one Jim Taylor:
“I can only think of one name for Donald Trump and that is ‘Mr. President.’…”
(Actually, that’s two words, Jim, but we won’t quibble about basic math skills.)
“…I can easily think of many names for all the liberal crybabies. If her articles are considered objective journalism, then I’ll have to pass…”
(Actually, columns are commentary — “opinion” — and by definition, not objective.)
“…Please cancel our subscription immediately. Do not worry about any reimbursements, just give any monies due us to Ms. DeAngelo. Maybe she can buy one of those new artificial vaginas like they wore in the Women’s March. If she puts it around her face maybe it will mop up her tears.”
(Actually, Jim, those weren’t artificial vaginas, they were pussy hats. A vagina isn’t a pussy, but we’ll move on to human anatomy after we’ve mastered addition.)
But wait! There’s more!
The very next day, a sour-looking old gal shuffles into the office and complains to our front desk person, Barbara, about how she loathes “that woman’s” columns and wants the Express to stop running them, adding, “she never writes about anything else.” Well, Barbara (the nicest, most patient person on Earth) politely objected and said that was simply untrue. In Barbara terms, “polite objection” is downright fury.
The woman kept on and on, and here’s the punch line: I was sitting right in front of her! Not 10 feet away! But I let her drone on, because — whatever. However, it’s one thing to annoy me, but when you manage to make Barbara mad, that’s it. I spun around and said, “If you don’t like my columns, don’t read them!”
She was utterly shocked that “that woman” heard every word, and sputtered, “When are you just going to accept that Trump is president!”
“Never!” I thundered back. “Just like the majority of the population!”
And trust me, as long as the Cheetoh in Chief is tweeting his thumbs off while he should be running the country, I’m a-gonna talk about it. A lot. And if you don’t like that… it’s simple: Turn the page. But no. You’re going to cancel your subscription, which is about as dumb as boycotting the supermarket because they sell artichokes.
So, buy asparagus instead, you dope.
Enough’s enough. No more Mr. Nice Girl. I marched straight to my Facebook page, told folks what was going down, and said I needed twice as many new subscribers as cancellations because I fear that I may become one of the first of many columnists to be silenced in President Ferret-Top’s declaration of war on the media, particularly since it seems his minions are following his lead in opposing local commentary, particularly if it’s liberal or wears an artificial vagina on its head.
To my delight and astonishment, my Facebook friends rallied, and Express subscriptions started pouring in, each with a declaration of support for me. And, Charley noticed. He actually publicly defended my right to uncensored expression in his last column. Yes. Charley stuck up for me. I can count all the times that’s happened in the last 25 years and still have fingers left over. I was so stunned when I read his column, I wondered if I’d accidentally died and no one told me.
New subscribers are great, but it gets even greater: Some of those new subscribers live far away and didn’t actually want the Express, but still wanted to support me. So, I suggested donating their subscriptions to impoverished Wolfskill High School (where I’m helping with their fledgling student newspaper) or the El Rio Villa housing complex in Winters, where some folks are so poor, a newspaper subscription is a luxury.
And … people did!
Thank you. I can’t love you enough. Not just for the show of support but also for supporting the free press. Whether The Enterprise or the Express, or The New York Times, when you support free speech, you’re helping to keep the First Amendment from the death grip of Trumplethinskin’s tiny hands.
— Email Debra DeAngelo at firstname.lastname@example.org; read more of her work at www.wintersexpress.com and www.ipinionsyndicate.com