Reader tells news columnist he is a racist, hopes he dies
I get emails. A lot of them.
Some are pleasant. Some of them are … not so pleasant.
Recently, 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.
I hope you enjoy.
Now, on to this month’s emails …
Q: Never read your column. Was looking for Apple Cup coverage and saw your article on email comments. You are the quintessential (snowflake emoji) — Michael
A: I must confess that I’ve been called a lot of things. But this marks the first time I’ve been insulted via emoji. There’s always a first.
Hope you enjoyed our Apple Cup coverage, Michael.
Q: You racist piece of (expletive). I read your article a week ago about black lives and white lives, and now I see your next article — no apologies, nothing. You (expletive) racist piece of (expletive). I hope you (expletive) die. — David
A: Boy, that took a dark turn.
In last month’s installment of this column, I attempted to write constructively about the significant differences between the Black Lives Matter movement and use of “white lives matter” as a counter to it. I’m not going to do it again, and I certainly won’t be apologizing for it.
I don’t have much more to say in response to David’s message — which, full disclosure, came via voice mail and through the convenience of technology was delivered to my email inbox. I will note, however, that it’s been 152 years since the 13th Amendment abolished slavery, 62 years since Rosa Parks sat in the front of that bus and 56 years since the Freedom Rides.
In 2017, there still are people out there who respond to discussions of racial inequity and injustice like this.
We’ve got work to do.
Q: What are your plans for when the TNT announces bankruptcy? — John
A: Now, here’s a fun question.
Because I came of age in journalism during a time of constant uncertainty, many people I’ve worked with have had journalism backup plans. A former editor at Seattle Weekly, for instance, always wanted to be a mailman. One of my favorite editors of all time now owns a craft beer taproom — which, honestly, feels like a major upgrade.
I took an unofficial poll around the newsroom, and I got a few more alternate career choices from my colleagues. One wants to be a firefighter. One wants to be a nurse. One wants to be a deckhand on a tugboat.
A fourth — and it’s definitely not Sean Robinson — wants to be a chess hustler.
Like I said, it’s definitely not Sean Robinson.
Personally, I’ve always wanted to teach high school.
Q: I know everyone’s opinion is just that, but when a reporter on what is in my OPINION a third-rate newspaper purports what others are thinking, I know why that clump of paper no longer defiles my driveway. Keep it up Matt, very soon you will find out what objective readers think of you non-objective style. Continue to preach division among people, maybe it may lead to a Pulitzer. — Rosemarie
A: Perhaps this presents a teachable moment. By nature, my job as a columnist involves offering an opinion. It’s kind of the point.
This email, too, came in response to last month’s comparison of the Black Lives Matter movement versus the use of the phrase “white lives matter.”
I don’t find it divisive to highlight matters of racial injustice. Instead, I see a clear opportunity to come together and do what’s right. In fact, if you do find such a call to action divisive, I think that warrants some significant self-reflection.
As for my Pulitzer prospects? Seems unlikely, especially now that I’m writing this column.
Q: The anti-Trump folks decry the gutter political rhetoric they claim is used by Trump and his supporters. These same anti-Trumpers have taken it to a new low. Your use of the term “swamp rats” falls in line very nicely with the gutter political rhetoric the elitist, condescending left once criticized but now champions. I enjoy your writing but the playground name-calling is a distraction. — Patrick
A: Patrick is a semi-regular emailer. Though we sometimes disagree, I respect his opinion and thoughtfulness.
Recently, I referred to current Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai, a former lawyer for Verizon, as one of Trump’s “swamp rats.”
Why? One of Trump’s main campaign promises — as you might recall — was to “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C., of lobbyist and special interests. Instead, Trump appointed people like Pait to positions of power and influence. He now oversees the FCC, which this month voted to blow up Obama-era net neutrality protections in a move that clearly benefits giant internet providers.
This, of course, is the very opposite of draining the swamp — and just one small example among many of Trump’s flagrantly broken campaign promises. It served as the inspiration for the admittedly colorful line.
So, critique noted. In this instance, I’m standing by it.
Q: I don’t like the idea of publishing your responses to some of the crude or fatuous emails you receive. You’re entering a communications cul-de-sac when you do this — responding to flimsy badinage with more of the same. Communication should be a two-way street, with intersections. — Annette
A: You may have a point, Annette.