Matt Driscoll

'Filthy, traitorous' columnist takes on a Sheriff Clarke fan and a Bob Ferguson hater

News columnist called ‘traitorous’ and ‘Social Conscience Monitor for Tacoma’

This month’s edition of Matt Driscoll’s “You Rip, I Respond” feature.
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This month’s edition of Matt Driscoll’s “You Rip, I Respond” feature.

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?

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

Now, on to this month’s emails …

Drop dead you filthy, traitorous (colorful language deleted). You are a waste of oxygen. — Anonymous

*Breathes deeply*

*Breathes deeply again, purely for comedic effect*

You know, I actually find this email kind of endearing. I mean, the one-word (colorful language deleted) — which is exactly how it arrived — feels pretty darn authentic to me. Like we’re down home, sitting on a log, chewin’ tobacco and cussing out some big city columnist real good.

Well played, whoever you are. Next time, attach your name to such brilliance.

Most people in this state are disapproving of Attorney General Bob Ferguson's performance and childish waste of government resources. There is also a very uncomfortable and well-documented link between chess champions and mental illness, and he may be demonstrating that as he does not seem well reasoned. — Brian

Hiya, Bri!

First of all, I’m not sure if that first part is true.

In 2012, Bob Ferguson secured just over 53% of the vote.

In 2016, he received just over 67% of the vote.

So, the idea that “most” people in the state don’t like him — or what he’s doing — is hard to imagine. “Most” voters cast a ballot for him, after all.

Of course, to your point, the true test of how voters view Ferguson’s ongoing legal battles with the Trump administration will likely be how he fares the next time he runs for office …

Probably with eyes on the Governor’s Mansion.

Let’s get the word out to all groups: you need Matt Driscoll’s approval for any speaker. Matt is the Social Conscience Monitor for Tacoma; he knows what’s best for you, just ask him, he’ll tell you. — Pat

Thanks for the note, Pat.

To clarify, I am not Tacoma’s Social Conscience Monitor. It sounds too official when it’s capitalized that way. I already have enough on my plate.

But, yes, if you’re a political party, representing the county, and you invite a speaker known to espouse views like former Sheriff David Clarke’s, I will call it out as wrong. Expressing opinions on such matters is part of my job.

Political parties — Republicans, Democrats and all other variations — have a choice to make about what messages they support and rally around. It’s not a decision to take lightly.

Clarke’s rhetoric is dangerous and divisive (to say nothing of the deaths and allegations of abuse that occurred in the jail he oversaw).

Whether he’s talking about bloodying journalists, equating Black Lives Matter protestors to ISIS terrorists, or any of the other unhinged things that seem to flow from his mouth, Clarke’s motivation is clear: riling up the worst and angriest emotions possible and then using the pipeline of vitriol he’s tapped into for Trump’s political gain.

I understand that Trump is, technically, a Republican. But the local Republicans I know are better than that, and that’s what the local party should get behind.

I hope you also receive letters or emails that offer reasonable counterpoints to your opinions or even show appreciation for the hard work you and the rest of the journalists at The News Tribune do to keep its readers informed on current issues. I urge you and your editors to also balance the "You rip, I respond" section to include responses from these commentators as well. — Alex

Hi Alex.

I think one of the unforeseen issues with the “You rip, I respond” column is that it give folks the impression that all I receive are nasty, hateful emails from people who wish I’d get hit by a bus.

In truth, those are only some of the emails I get.

I’m happy to report that I also get plenty of downright nice emails. So please don’t feel too bad for me (also, I get paid).

I’ve based this column primarily on the terrible emails for a couple of reasons:

First, it’s more entertaining to read. While the idea of a column full of civil exchanges sounds like a good one, I promise you not as many people would read it. Make of this what you will.

Second, knowing this, I try to use it to my advantage and make the mailbag as constructive as possible.

Yes, I’m addressing the sender, at least by name (if it’s included). But, even more, I’m addressing a vast swath of readers now in on the conversation, most of whom wouldn’t think of sending me such an email but might have some of the same questions and concerns.

I'm in line with feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless, but let me ask you a question here: Would you give a known alcoholic a beer mug and haul away his empties or bring bullets to a gun owner known to be suicidal? No? So why would you seem to think it’s OK to bring new needles and other accouterments for shooting up dope to an addict as a considerate gesture? — Michael

Hi, Michael. Thanks for reaching out.

I absolutely understand the concern. There is a moral and ethical quandary involved with providing clean syringes and other supplies to folks grappling with addiction. I struggled with it myself.

Here’s why I believe it’s a positive thing:

First, it’s an effective way to reduce the spread of infectious disease. That’s good for people struggling with substance use and also good for everyone who comes in contact with them.

Second, it saves lives.

When I was riding along with Tacoma Needle Exchange, we encountered a woman living in the shadow of Mount Rainier who had recently started methadone treatment. Previously, she’d frequently utilized the service and eventually the regular, positive interactions with outreach workers led her to seek help.

If a person dies, recovery is impossible — and recovery is the goal.

Victories are hard-won, but they do happen.