Not since The Church Of Oz (7-2-12), where I recommended Downtown El Paso be given to the gay community to keep them busy when they're not otherwise occupied asking devout Christians their opinion on gay marriage, have I received such a gaggle of harshly worded e-mails. In the case of The Church Of Oz, it was the straight community who were offended... on behalf of the gays! Apparently, gay people are unable to think or speak up for themselves.
My gay readers, however, got the joke.
In the case of A Pathetic Little Nobody (7-28-12), the media stepped up to, but didn't quite cross, the line of defending Aurora, Colorado's--and how I hate to use this word--alleged mass shooter, James Holmes. The e-mails all went along the lines of: "James Holmes is a disturbed individual. You should feel sorry for him, and not be making fun of the size of his penis. Please take me off your mailing list."
But, if there's one thing I've learned from James Holmes, it's that there's no such thing as bad press. TWELVE dead, FIFTY-TWO wounded, ORANGE hair... and have you seen the number of women who find Holmes sexy? The worst thing I can say I've done is that I voted for Dukakis. Not quite the chick magnet.
"You should be ashamed of yourself," wrote one reader in Kaka, Arizona. "And, believe me, living in a town called 'Kaka,' I know all about being ashamed."
While the majority of the responses have been positive, it's been the negative responses that have made me think long and hard about what I wrote. Was I too harsh? Did I cross the line? Should I get this rash checked?
Deciding what to do took the hardest twenty seconds of my life, but I was finally able to distill it down to this: The media has glorified this pathetic excuse of a mass shooter, and experts agree that this glorification of losers inspires copy-cats (How many other Jokers have there already been?). The most my story will inspire is for someone to turn off their computer and wonder what the Hell they're doing with their life.
You tell me, what's more offensive?
"Never in my life have I read anything so vulgar, so poorly written, so boring," wrote E.L. James, while she was on vacation in Napoopoo, Hawaii. "But enough about my novel Fifty Shades of Grey."
Like the gay community, the regular people understood my point. They were quick to write that they were tired of heartless killers being portrayed as tortured souls. They were tired of these human monsters becoming celebrities by virtue of a single horrifyingly evil act. They were tired of Justin Bieber constantly slapping his male employees on the face, but I don't know what that had to do with anything.
Dick Cheney was kind enough to send me a very nice note.
"You make me sick!" the former vice-president wrote from Fort Dick, California. Which, I believe, hangs somewhere south of San Francisco. "If I was the man I was just ten years ago, I'd take you hunting and shoot you in the face!"
The entire reporting staff from the El Paso Times despised my story so much they took up a collection to hire a hit man,* but hired Quincy Jones by mistake.
"I've got an album coming out in September," he told them, just before they raised the price of their newspaper again.
Not everyone rejected me or detested my writing.
"Great job," wrote James Frey, author of A Thousand Little Pieces.
"Good, honest journalism," wrote Steven Glass.
"Yeah, you should get that rash checked," wrote Gore Vidal. His having recently died, I don't know how he found out I have a rash.
But, in the end, it's not the positive responses that I'll think about when I go to sleep at night. When the lights are off, and my head is on the pillow, I'll be thinking about all the death threats I've received, and wonder if that sound I heard was really just the house settling. I'll also be going over in my mind all the insults and curses and poisonous exclamations of venom.
For example: "I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU!"
That was from my mom.
Fifty Shades of Funny
*If you're in the Gay Mafia, is being "whacked" a good thing?