I get emails. A lot of them.
Some are pleasant. Some of them are … not so pleasant.
A few months ago, my editor came to me with an idea: What if I wrote one column a month replying to some of the angrier dispatches? Then, what if we made a video to accompany the column, so readers could get a glimpse into what it’s like to open my inbox in the morning?
For some reason, I agreed.
It’s a feature we’re calling, “You rip, I respond.” It runs the last Sunday of each month, and you’re reading the latest installment. The video is at thenewstribune.com.
I hope you enjoy.
Now, on to this month’s emails …
Q: Your basic problem is you’re a (descriptor deleted) idiot and your abject ignorance just makes your idiocy worse. Why don’t you stick to topics you know something about, if any, or (shut up). — Don
A: Hi, Don. I guess I feel like that first sentence is a bit redundant. But, then again, I don’t know much about copy editing, so I’ll shut up.
Thanks for reaching out.
Q: You (colorful language deleted) at the TNT continue to weave your opinion into every story. To see how journalism works, educate yourself at Breitbart or Drudge. — Bob
A: You’re joking, right, Bob? Surely this is a joke. I mean … please?
On the off chance you’re not joking …
First off, I’d urge you to find different outlets for your news. Breitbart and the Drudge Report are not reliable sources, and — deep down — I think you know that. And I think readers who frequent these sites are mostly interested in having their biases validated.
Beyond that, a little bit of media literacy: I’m a columnist, so — yes — my opinions are part of the deal.
For most of my colleagues, however, that’s not the case. Yes, reporters have opinions. They’re human. But reporting the news objectively is a skill that’s part of the trade, and the people I work with have honed it and take great pride in doing it well. The News Tribune also employs editors, and one of their jobs it is to ensure the news stories we print are fair.
Q: When you offer your solutions, ones that really work, you can become the next Wizard, green robe and all! You can be the guy who has all the answers instead of just being a snarky critic who takes potshots from the pages of a mediocre newspaper. — Jan
A: Hi, Jan. I might take you up on that whole wizard deal. I’ve always enjoyed robes — especially green ones — and there’s not exactly a lot of security in the newspaper business these days.
Any idea how the benefits stack up?
Q: You bleeding heart liberals disgust me! You morons are so stupid you don’t know what “ILLEGAL” means? ... You liberals are NOT going to continue to dictate to REAL AMERICANS what we can and can’t do. — J
A: A few weeks ago I sat down with a group of young people protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA. All of them came to this country from Mexico as very young children, and — like most of us — they wake up every day and go to work or go to school (usually both) in hopes of one day achieving their dreams.
One wanted to be a schoolteacher. Another hoped to be a social worker. All of them said they’d be completely lost if they were deported to Mexico since their lives are here, and this is the only country they’ve ever really known.
The words “real Americans” are yours, not mine, J. I’m not sure exactly what they mean to you. What seems clear is that, under your definition, a person who wants to protect these children doesn’t qualify.
That’s troubling to me. I’ll take a hard pass. In my book, “Real Americans” are better than that.
Q: Please step up and be the first citizen to help the city of Puyallup and its citizens forge a path of progress. Please provide your home address to the Puyallup City Council so that they can then let any person experiencing homelessness know where they can safely relieve themselves. — Marvin
A: Thanks for reaching out, Marvin. Believe it or not, you were not the only reader to suggest this after I wrote about Puyallup’s portable toilet problem this month.
There were at least three of you, so it’s officially a trend.
Q: As a Puyallup resident, it’s amazing how a dweeb, such as you, knows us so well! Get lost (bad word deleted) for brains! — Gary
A: Hi, Gary. You know, it’s funny. I haven’t been called a “dweeb” in a long time. Since elementary school, I think, when I was growing up … in Puyallup.
Really, though, there’s no great mystery when it comes to figuring how people in any place are feeling. You just have to listen to them.
When it comes to homelessness, I’ve done a lot of listening over the last several years — to folks from Puyallup and elsewhere. And the friction in Puyallup is not unusual. I’ve seen it in Seattle. I’ve seen it in Tacoma. I’ve seen it in Kent. I’ve even seen it in North Bend.
A number of folks in Puyallup are angry at what they see as an increase in lawlessness and degradation, and they blame law enforcement and government for not doing more to crack down. They see things like open-air drug use and property crimes — which they attribute almost entirely to homelessness — and no longer recognize their city.
A sizable but less vocal group also are frustrated. They, too, want the city to do more. They see things like they way Puyallup has almost entirely dodged the issue, and in some cases made it harder for those attempting to undertake the important work helping the chronically homeless get off the streets, and it makes them angry and embarrassed.
The majority of people, I’d guess, find themselves somewhere in the middle. It’s a difficult issue, after all.
Again, Puyallup is far from unusual in being faced with turmoil like this.
That’s where elected officials are supposed to step in and provide leadership.