Sorry about that title, it should read: "Handling Hate Mail — From Dummies." Oh me. Will the LRC editing staff ever get these things right? Oh well, since I already have your attention…
Unless you are writing about flowers, children, balloons, Teddy bears, and other nice stuff, you'll probably get hate mail. In fact, I'll bet even the writer's of such fare get their share of hate mail too (I would imagine it would come from jealous people). On a site like Lew Rockwell, most people don't write about pretty things; so I guess we get hate mail in droves. I know I do.
I like to think that my hate mail comes because good folks don't read and understand what I have written — I'm allowed to dream, aren't I? What I actually fear and suspect is that I could be even more of a hack writer than I think I am and as such, am unable to convey my message clearly. Oh well, you learn something new everyday.
Don't do what I do, do what I say!
This article is to help you, my fellow writers — hackers, pro's, what-have-you — to gently handle those hate letters so that you don't get an ulcer, start drinking heavily, or start feeling sorry for yourself (this happens to me often). Here are a handy-dandy set of rules that I promise will help you in making the answering of your hate mail an enjoyable experience.
Rule 1: Keep in mind that love and hate are two sides of a fiat coin. Anyone who writes to you actually loves you. Some people are better at showing their love than others. This is an important rule to keep in mind before tackling that Yahoo mail account that we all use for our articles (instead of our real e-mail address).
Rule 2: Never, but never, open your e-mail account after you've been drinking. I imagine some of the good folks who have written to me will scoff at this. For that I must apologize — blame it on the booze. In fact, if you have been drinking, I think it's best to stay away from your computer all together (look who's talking!). Nevertheless, from now on, do as I say, not as I do.
Rule 3: Never look at your e-mail after arguing with the little woman. Let's face it. She's right and you are wrong — you should be ashamed of yourself, you useless worm. That's no time to start an argument with other people. Have a drink and go to bed – remember to kiss the battleaxe on the forehead before retiring and to say "Good night." It's never a good idea to go to bed angry.
Rule 4: Humor, humor, humor. Don't look at mail as a personal attack. If you look closely I think you'll find most probably several remarks from the reader that are good for at least a few howls of laughter. Don't forget, you are the writer. That puts you in the driver's throne and that you are the king of all that is good and fair. The reader is a fan (see Rule 1 above).
Rule 5: Keep in mind that the readers are generally not writers and they are trying their best to convey their message. Often, they will be angry at you for what you have written and their letters will start off politely and then descend into flames like a Zero fighter at the Battle of Leyte. This is where the gist of their message comes out: That you are a hack writer (well, of course, we all know that). So what's to argue?
Rule 6: This is the best one and I've saved it for last. I have found a great way to answer extremely foul-mouthed e-mails that works about 70% of the time. It really does. Whenever you get a mail - and they are usually several pages long - but start out with a kind greeting along the lines of:
"You (expletive deleted) (expletive deleted) (expletive deleted) moran…." (They usually misspell "moron".)
I found that the best way to reply is to ignore reading the rest of their letter (I mean, if I want to be called names, I'll go home and argue with my teenage daughters or my wife) and then I will respond to the dear reader by writing:
"Dear Such-and such,
Don't you think that your mother deserves better than to have people think that she didn't raise you right because you use profanity and call strangers names? Most people know that calling strangers names is a definite sign of poor manners and upbringing. I think your mom would be ashamed to see what you wrote, and I think such a fine woman as her deserves better than that. Don't you?"
No kidding. I've used this at least two dozen times and, until now, 7 or 8 people have apologized to me. Really! Try it sometime.
If you keep in mind these simple rules, then I'm sure answering Hate Mail will come as a much more pleasant experience than it has ever been before. Let's face it, when someone calls you names, what you really want to do to let them have it with both barrels. But what good are you doing if you are adding just one more small crumb to this mountain of a hateful world we live in? Keep in mind, it is much more fun and rewarding to know that you have pissed them off even more by being kind to them; and in this way, at least one of you can go to bed chuckling. I know I do.
-For Robert Klassen