It’s time, once again, for my monthly, “You rip, I respond,” column.
You know how it works: Angry folks write, I respond and make an awkward video. Then hilarity and an occasional Evergreen State College joke ensue.
I hope you enjoy.
Now, on to this month’s emails …
I just read your article in the paper this morning. It’s garbage, and you’re nothing more than garbage. Sitting there telling us how somebody threatened a little girl that’s selling cookies … and you think this isn’t serious? For God’s sake, grow up. — Anonymous
First of all, anonymous reader, thank you for subscribing. We really appreciate it. I mean that.
Here’s the thing: You’re absolutely right. Not about me being garbage, hopefully, but about trying to rob a Girl Scout and flashing a gun. That is serious stuff.
Which … was kind of the point of the column. We know our prisons are overcrowded (or just crowded, depending on your viewpoint). We know the number of people we’re locking up has gone up over the last several decades while overall crime has gone down. And there’s a popular narrative out there that all of those occupied prison cells are a result of the War on Drugs and nonviolent drug offenses.
That’s simply not the case. As Fordham University Professor John Pfaff has documented, the reality is far more complicated — and it has a lot to do with the way we prosecute violent crimes. It’s the people convicted of those violent crimes that make up the bulk of our prison population across the country.
So if we really want to do something about our prison population — and, for perspective, the United States has a history of locking up more people per capita than any nation in the world — those are the types of crimes we’ll have to reckon with.
For society’s sake, I think reducing the number of people behind bars is a worthwhile undertaking. You might not.
Either way, the attempted Girl Scott robbery provided a good opportunity to talk about the reality of the situation — which often gets lost.
Your leftist, Neo-Marxist views, in general, are out of step with the mainstream of our county and reflect the views of someone who attended the Evergreen State College which, when I visited it many years ago, had all the appearance of a 1960s era hippie commune that also awarded college credit — with no letter grades, of course. — John
Hi John. Thanks for writing.
First of all, it sounds like Evergreen didn’t change much between when you visited many years ago and my time there. I bet you saw a drum circle, didn’t you? And some hacky sack? Maybe an herbal jazz cigarette or two?
Really takes me back …
As for the “grades” I received at Evergreen, you’re welcome to read through my transcript. You’re right, no letter grades, but plenty of long evaluations. The whole thing is the size of "War and Peace."
Did you hear about how the Evergreen college soccer team forfeited their game by refusing to play? Yeah, it was a natural grass field and they didn't want to hurt the grass!
Why did the Evergreen student cross the road? To get three credits. — John … again.
Thanks for the additional zingers, John. You’re a riot. I bet you're super fun at parties.
Technically, I have 16 credits in crossing the road — but it was interpretive road crossing. There’s a difference.
I have a win-win to present to you in regards to your article (on growth in Tacoma). Why don't you leave town so a vacated spot occurs in Tacoma's populace? The News Tribune's readership would be rid of you, and a vacancy would allow future Tacoma denizens one more place to live. — Doug
Hi Doug. Thanks for reaching out.
I don’t want to be too hard on you here … but you guys really need some fresh material. When I write about homelessness, I get emails about how I should let those experiencing homeless use the bathroom at my house. When I write about addiction, I get emails about how I should let people shoot up in my yard.
And, apparently, when I write about the inevitability of population growth, I get told to leave.
I love you all, but you can do better. I believe in you.
What I don't understand is how someone like you, with well above average intelligence, can ignore the severe housing shortage due to logging, building and growth moratoriums on one end? … You people just like to (expletive) about the unpleasantness of property management and convince yourself that you are part of the solution. It blows my (expletive) mind how stupid a brilliant mind can be. — Steven
Thanks … I guess?
It would be nice to see more emails containing well-thought-out arguments against your opinions. To me it seems like there is an abundance of emails quoted that contain at least one outlandish, hateful, out of left-field or unrealistic comment against you or something you believe in. As one who disagrees with most of your columns, I feel misrepresented by favoring publication of these types of emails regardless of how entertaining the hateful ones are to read about. — Andy
You bring up a fair point, and one I admittedly might not have fully considered.
First of all, you’re right. I absolutely do pick the most absurd emails I receive to include in this column. They’re the cream of the crop, so to speak, and I think there’s some entertainment value in that — even if it’s slightly perverse.
It’s a balancing act, but mostly I try to answer these ridiculous emails in a thoughtful manner. It’s really more about speaking to a broader audience than the person who sent the email, because for every Brian who hopes I die in a freak elevator accident, there’s someone out there with a similar concern that doesn’t harbor the same troubling anger issues and grammar deficiencies.
That said, our society — and certainly both Right and Left — has a terrible tendency to stereotype “the enemy” on the other side. We stop seeing people as people, capable of individual thought and personalized opinion, and we start seeing them only as “the other.”
It doesn’t help, and it definitely prevents real conversation and progress.
So, to be perfectly clear: There are a great number of people who disagree with me on many things, and plenty of those folks have very valid and thoughtful arguments to make. They’re not all lunatics, and the craziness you sometimes read in this column doesn’t accurately represent “the other side,” whatever that may mean to you.
I’m pretty sure Brian really does want me to die in an elevator, though. Just sayin’.
“You rip, I respond” runs in print the last Sunday of each month. This month’s video can be found at thenewstribune.com.