sedaliademocrat.com

McMullen: Mailbag holds both praise and eye pokes

November 9, 2012

“your writing sucks just thought i’d let u know”


This was the second sentence in an email that I got a few weeks ago — it’s presented here as is, for your consideration. I won’t share the first sentence, as it accused me of being a part of the human body that I can’t talk about here.


And with this shocking revelation I tender my resignation; effective immediately. My editor won’t stand for writing that sucks.


Seriously though: I like to see a good piece of hate mail in my inbox now and again because it lets me know that I’m not playing it too safely. It lets me know that the column isn’t entirely stagnant.


But this is not a good piece of hate mail, even if I did get a good laugh out of it. In a way, I admire the direct approach taken by this individual: the writing, it sucks. Make it not suck post haste!


I try to answer all of the mail I receive but I just couldn’t find the right words to send back. Maybe it should have been a simple “thanks for reading.”


Ultimately I would prefer constructive criticism, but I have a history of encouraging people to send me anything so I really can’t complain about it. And along those same lines, I got an e-mail forward from Jane Twenter just two days before the presidential election.


“Travis, you asked for people to send you anything. Here’s something you need to know. Thanks.” wrote Twenter.


And I appreciate that, too, but I don’t take voting advice from email forwards and neither should you.


Ultimately I would prefer strictly original content, but anything is fine.


As you probably know, Proposition B failed in Missouri. I wrote a column in support of that initiative recently and while the public responses were mixed, the private responses were pretty supportive.


“Your October 9 column about the tobacco tax increase was great. When I first looked at the front page of the Democrat that day and saw that your column was about that subject I immediately said to myself that you had written some clever and cogent things on the issue. You certainly did,” wrote Weston Cram, an individual who has been sending me e-mail for years.


I think there are two reasons for the failure of Proposition B:


• A good portion of the general Missouri population smokes, so there’s probably a reasonable portion of the voting population that smokes and they know better than to raise their own taxes.


• It might have been too much all at once. Even though I thought it was a reasonable increase when compared to other states’ rates, it might have been hoping for too much to go from the bottom of the list to the middle in one fell swoop. If we are to ever raise our national-low tobacco tax, we might have to do it incrementally.


And a while ago I got an extensive letter from Sandra Mullins that covered a number of topics, including foods that come on a stick, department store congestion, lost socks and frequent refrigerator trips.


“How about people that are so critical to the continued rotation of the Earth, that they must talk loud and incessantly on Bluetooth phone adapters? How can I tell if they’re saving the planet or merely talking to invisible friends? They frighten me. What if they are saying, ‘The building is on fire!’ Are they talking to me, or is this building in another town, or should I ignore them because they frighten me in the first place? Just to be cool and important, I’ve occasionally walked around and talked loudly to my dog, which is home and doesn’t have opposable thumbs to operate electronic devises. This tactic is effective if you want people to give you a wide berth,” went one of the paragraphs.


Now, I’m sure there are all sorts of legitimate reasons why one might use a wireless headset with their cellphone. And they are a little silly but I don’t think I’ve seen one in a great long while. We must run in different circles.


“Best wishes, keep fighting the good fight!” wrote Mullins.