McClellan: My gift to readers — their turn

2012-12-10T00:15:00Z 2012-12-20T16:19:15Z McClellan: My gift to readers — their turnBy Bill McClellan bmcclellan@post-dispatch.com 314-340-8143 stltoday.com

In the holiday spirit, let me give readers a gift — the opportunity to express themselves in the space I normally use to express myself.

The day before the election, I wrote a column in which I said that while a lot of my friends were saying they couldn’t wait for the campaign season to be over, I was going to miss it because I enjoyed negative campaign ads. It’s fun to watch successful people get smeared, I wrote.

Dr. Greg H. was not amused.

“Your article was both sick and anti-American. I’m not sure how successful I am, but I am sure you would love to smear me. You are a very immature person with, as you describe it, a chip on your shoulder. You left-wing ‘nattering nabobs of negativism’ are an antithesis to the American Dream, whatever that now is, considering that none of us really ‘built it’ without your help. Really? With your lazy (deleted) philosophy, we would all sit around and watch someone else do the work, make the sacrifices to care for our families while parasites like you sit around and throw rocks and collect food stamps and welfare. Nice.

“You are a disgrace to your profession and you should immediately desist and seek psychiatric help. If you choose the coward’s way out by offing yourself, it wouldn’t break my heart.”

Dear Dr. Greg: I admire people who can quote Spiro Agnew.

In another column, I wrote that computers are not our friends, and people who might not otherwise get in trouble do so when they use computers. To illustrate this, I mentioned Edward Dickinson, who visited an “adult chat room” and had inappropriate conversations with a person he thought was a 14-year-old girl. In reality, the person was a detective.

Eric W. responded.

“I want you to be aware that your column reads like a Luddite crying out against the advent of a technology he simply does not understand. Not only are your statements reaching largely deaf ears and saying little of consequence, but some of them are despicable. You say you are not defending Mr. Dickinson’s actions, but you may very well be excusing them. I recommend you put more thought into the intended consequences of your columns in the future.”

Dear Eric: I was not trying to excuse anything. I was just trying to point out that computers make it easy to do bad things. Better to spend your time in bars.

In a similar vein, I wrote a column about being a Neanderthal. I received a pleasant note from Janet C.

“I am writing because I am a biology teacher. One of the units we cover is taxonomy, the science of classification. My problem is that in your Neanderthal column on Monday, you wrote the scientific name for humans, Homo sapiens, incorrectly, not once, but three times. Scientific names should be written in italics, or underlined if writing by hand, with the genus name capitalized and the species name in lower case letters.”

Dear Janet: Your point is well taken and I greatly appreciate your civility, but I am a Luddite crying out against the advent of a technology I simply do not understand. I can hardly turn the computer on and off, let alone ask it to do italics. I will ask the editors for help in this instance.

In another column, I suggested we turn to martial law to handle our crime problem.

Jack D. took offense.

“Your idea of martial law to combat crime is way off the wall. That is basically what Hitler did in the 1930s. Of course I would expect that from an ultra liberal such as yourself and all the rest of Obama’s followers. I am sure that Obama would love that idea, as his plan is to destroy American as we know it.”

Susie C. didn’t like the martial law idea, either.

“I realize you write an opinion column and everyone is entitled to his/her opinion. But the ideas you put forth yesterday are un-informed, reckless, racist and downright dangerous.

“Do you not realize that young black men are already being racially profiled and are rarely granted constitutional protection? Have you actually followed the crime stats over the years? Do you know that violent crime has been decreasing? Before making such reckless comments, spend some time actually studying the situation.”

Finally, Steve H. was one of many readers who found fault with columns on an accident involving David Freese.

“Perhaps if you ‘journalists’ put as much energy focusing on what happened in Benghazi as you have on the Freese non-story, we might have some answers about what really happened.”

Dear Steve: It’s easier for a “journalist” to drive to Wildwood than to Benghazi.

Bill McClellan is a columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Read his columns here.

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Bill McClellan

Bill McClellan worked as a reporter in Phoenix before coming to the Post-Dispatch in 1980. He was night-police reporter before becoming a columnist in 1983. He also appears on Channel 9's Donnybrook.

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