Anyone who makes their opinions public, in print or online, can expect to receive periodic hate mail. That’s how the game is played. Just as the columnist attempts to provoke the reader, so does the hate mailer desire a reaction from the columnist. It’s tempting to oblige.
I received such an email recently. It was self-congratulatory and totally anonymous. I should’ve just let it ride, like I do the other occasional hate mails. But, for some inexplicable reason, I replied to the message. As stated, it’s difficult to remain silent when a reader invites abuse.
For example, this hate mailer informed me that my “southern bubba ass” will soon be a minority and my sole source of income will be cleaning toilets with my tongue. According to my new fan, such work would be perfect for an “inbred miscreant” like me.
I replied to the sender, which was taken as a sign that he had “gotten under my thin bubba skin.”
It would’ve been easy to use this space to settle the score. I could’ve pointed out that it was he who initiated the contact. Had I not gotten under his thin skin I wouldn’t have heard from him to begin with. I could’ve pointed out that the use of “bubba” carries the same connotations when directed toward a white male as the word “nigger” has when used toward blacks.
Furthermore, I could easily prove that my mother isn’t a prostitute. I could point to the simplicity of a mind that considers it an intellectual insult to “dedicate a big, brown turd” to me. And I could close with the obvious conclusion that “identifying” oneself as a long-dead Civil War general (William T. Sherman) is the same as remaining anonymous.
But as I prepared to write the column I had a change of heart. In an instant I realized my folly. I had forgotten one of my favorite lessons from Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson once said that a wise man shouldn’t argue with a fool, a passing stranger might not know which one is which.
Remembering Jefferson’s sage advice was like a sign from God, and perhaps it was. The easy solution, the easy reaction, would be to attack my attacker. But what purpose would it serve, other than to provide momentary satisfaction?
“General Sherman” had already done more to make himself look foolish than I could do in ten thousand words. In fact, rather than anger, I felt sympathy for the general. What a small man.
His response was typically shallow. Such is the leftist way. They rely on no fact; they rely on no principle. Their main weapons are sophomoric invectives and petty jealousies. It’s sad, really. How can a meaningful debate occur when one side is armed with logic, reason and a rational outlook while the other resorts to talking points, sound bites and gutter insults?
There are two lessons to be learned from this episode. First, when confronted with ignorance the best recourse is remaining silent. Or, if silence is impossible, respond with sound arguments. It will surely confuse the hate mailer, likely sending him or her into a tail-chasing frenzy. Exchanging witticisms is futile. The hate mailer has no wit, no fact, no logic and little--if any--useful purpose.
Second, the left is actually quite pitiful. The rank and file leftist has drunk deeply from the kool-aid. They don’t think; they feel and react as indoctrinated. Collectivism is their religion, which they will defend beyond all rational thought. And just as sure as if Jim Jones himself were leading them, they will devise their own destruction. But perhaps the saddest part is that such a large number of our neighbors have abandoned their intellect for the pabulum common to the leftist ideology.
Mr. Jefferson was correct. Never argue with a fool.