Reader Feedback: A Writer’s Reward

Member Group : Jerry Shenk

My columns generally endeavor to be thought-provoking. Unsurprisingly, readers fall everywhere across the “thinking” spectrum.

For years, my reader emails have run about six or seven to one in favor, occasionally more, but, most often, it’s the “one” that provides the greatest entertainment value.

I have occasionally included examples of the latter. Following are a few more.

Often insulting, sometimes vulgar, the funniest – and arguably least-informed – criticisms have come from highly-credentialed left-wing “humanities” academics who display nearly-limitless condescension, arrogance and self-regard, but scant self-awareness and no sense of irony at all.

One, a self-identified “Ivy-Leaguer,” dismissed decades of climate research by a well-known, highly-respected geologist, because, among other empty excuses, the geologist “has only a masters degree, not a doctorate” and “has held no post as a professor.”

An online search revealed that this Ivy Leaguer may endeavor to imply his strong “scientific” credentials by withholding his academic specialty from his email auto-signature’s “intellectually intimidating” list of Bachelors/Masters/PhD degrees.

Surely, if graduate geologists earned degrees in more-relevant fields – like this “expert’s” degrees in Art History with a specialty in West African Art – they would ignore the rich climate history in the geologic record, and agree with a PhD who has held part-time adjunct positions, but no tenured professorships.

Said art historian does dabble in climate “science,” though, writing, “I believe in the scientific method” to excuse his refusal to read more broadly. Ironic, huh?

In one exchange, I replied to a critic’s lengthy, “Caps Locked” diatribe: “You…accuse me of publishing an ‘angry tirade?’ After reading your ANGRY, SHOUTED…email, it’s clear that one will seldom see a more clinical example of psychological projection. And how perfectly passive-aggressive of you to blame your anger and rudeness on something I wrote.”

Another critical email read, simply, “Irellevant arguments, moron.”

I replied, “[Y]ou have no idea how amusing it is to be called “moron”…by someone who 1) makes no argument to dispute [the column] and 2) doesn’t know how to spell ‘irrelevant.’

“You didn’t mention your grade level…”

In response to a reader who advocated forcing people who never owned slaves to pay “reparations” to people who were never enslaved, I wrote, “I’m pretty sure Julius Caesar sold some of my Germanic tribal ancestors into slavery. Still awaiting my first check from Rome…”

Following the 2020 presidential election, one self-identified “Lifelong Republican” wrote, “So what you are saying…is the obstructionist agenda and inability to find common ground continues. I would have thought you would at least see an opportunity to find common ground, move forward, get the country healthy again, and treat opposing views with dignity and respect. Disagreement is good, partisanship for the sake of revenge is both sad and unhealthy for a democracy. Then again, you revel in the obstinate point of view.”

I replied, “I know a lot of ‘lifelong Republicans’ and…a few lifelong Democrats who are alarmed by the prospect of a national election being stolen by rampant fraud for which there is ample evidence in a number of critical jurisdictions. Frankly, I see nothing ‘obstructionist’ about recounts, investigating local practices, and auditing results to reassure America that a presidential election is legitimate.

“Where is your respect for that point of view?”

Insulting writers with whom one merely disagrees is pointlessly petty, and substituting irrelevant, misleading and/or dishonest diversions for “argument” usually involves an excessive number of words to express, simply, “I don’t like what you wrote.”

For example, before disputing – insultingly or otherwise – anything I’ve written about gender identity – and some readers have – you should know that transgenderism is purely psychological. Since a “gay gene” has never been isolated, homosexuality may be as well, but, if you accept the premise that “gays are born that way,” then there’s a fundamental inconsistency in any argument that conflates the notion of gender identity with sexual orientation. You can’t have it both ways.

Ironically, those critics never explain how, if one’s genitals do not define one’s gender, removing them affirms it.

Contra critics’ accusations, like most people, I’ve never disputed gays’ and lesbians’ – or transgenders’ – rights to use appropriate birth-gender facilities or demanded that they lose jobs absent other causes.

Finally, while positive feedback and informed criticisms are always welcome, off-topic, bovine excrement-filled emails from critics who mind their manners, avoid gratuitous insults and vulgarity can be highly entertaining.