Apparently someone disapproved of either the tone or the message of my post-Thanksgiving commentary on tofurkey.
An email message came in last week. In the subject line was one word: Tofurkey. In the message box was this short missive: “You are an ass. I hope no one ever takes you seriously.”
Well, apparently he did. I passed the crass email along to a colleague who responded: “Ron, does anyone ever take you seriously?” Well, sometimes they do.
In case you don’t recall the tofurkey commentary — and some of you probably don’t clip these commentaries and tape them to the refrigerator for later amusement — was in response to a news release offering10 reasons, some of them purely ridiculous, why I should not eat a turkey for Thanksgiving.
Some of my response to that public relations ploy was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but the gist of the message was that for many people turkey is a perfectly acceptable option for Thanksgiving dinner. I did point out that anyone who objects to eating turkey, or beef, pork or squirrel, for that matter, has every right to decline.
They don’t have the right to tell me I can’t eat them, however. I respect vegetarians, vegans and any other diet conscious group. I expect them to respect me, too. Apparently they don’t.
I was not particularly offended by the email. I’ve been called worse — by people who actually know me, by some who are closely related — and anyone who decides to take up writing as a career signs on for a certain amount of criticism. Comes with the territory.
But I do find it a bit disingenuous that a reader who apparently buys into the hype expressed in the original press release would not also accept that someone might have a contrary opinion and might be prone to express it.
I think, however, that we’ve reached a point in civil discourse where fringe elements — far left as well as far right — push their points aggressively, but bow their backs if someone with a dissenting opinion is equally forceful in pushing his.
I have no problem with anyone disagreeing with my opinions. I am smart enough to realize that my philosophies are products of my experience, my education, my background, and that no one else has that same set of influences and may come to different conclusions than I have.
It’s what I’ve always believed was the strength of this country. We take all those experiences, all those opinions, all those influences and sort them out until we can find a consensus. That, it seems to me, is democracy at its finest. Where did we lose it? When did it disappear from public debate, from political discourse, from editorial commentary?
I’ve talked with folks known as “Washington insiders” lately and they, almost to a man, insist that bipartisanship, a spirit of cooperation, a sense of doing what’s best for the country, has been displaced by a sense of what can we do to stay in or get back in power. As long as that environment persists, we’ll accomplish little and the country will be the worse for it.
That’s what bothers me most about a short, rather crude response to a commentary. The responder gave no reasons why he thinks I’m an ass, offered no explanations of what in my article he objected to. He just made a personal attack.
At any rate, I did, in the company of some of my closest friends, enjoy a very nice turkey on Thanksgiving. The pork loin I contributed to the festivities was also quite tasty, as were the many vegetables, casseroles and desserts we scarfed down.
This weekend, I’ll be traveling to see family in Pensacola, Fla., where we will enjoy a Christmas feast. I expect to eat well. I also expect to see another turkey bite the dust.
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