I got a lot of blow back from last week’s column, and if you’ve ever been blown back, you know it’s not an uplifting experience.
Friend Sean Johnson said, “I read your column today and I can’t believe the Enterprise would even print it.” A little blunt, but everyone’s entitled to their ignorant opinion.
I’m not convinced Sean even understands written humor, but when I picked up my Sunday Billings Gazette, left weekly at an undisclosed location by 90-year-old Faith “Zippy” Holler, I began to question my own journalistic judgment. She had written on the front page, “What were you drinking or smoking when you wrote that column?”
Again, shockingly blunt, but there’s no one’s opinion I respect more than Faith’s, who normally loves my columns. She’s the only one who could ever challenge me in a word-play “Jumbles” contest, so I unequivocally value her word judgment.
For the record, I had not drunk or smoked anything when I penned that column. To quote the old song, “No no no, I don’t smoke it no more; I’m tired of waking up on the floor ...” Truthfully, it’s been decades, and I’m surprised Faith is even hip to that green herb we used to call “Wicky-wacky tobbakey.”
In full disclosure though, I’ll confess that column about humans eating humans was a retread from 2003. I had gotten up so late and faced a deadline last Wednesday, I panicked and searched the archives for a past column I could refresh and rewrite. I hurriedly settled on that particular statement about the humorous side of cannibalism.
Those shocking headlines were ones I had been following at that time. Sure, it’s gross, gory and disturbing, but have my detractors never heard of dark humor?
After Sean’s and Faith’s overreactions, I questioned what it is about the human condition some find so offensive. Should we pretend Jeffrey Dahmer never existed and the Donner party was simply a family picnic?
Forgive me for living in reality and reporting thusly. Maybe my only sin is caring too much, but in case it wasn’t clear, I’m unequivocally anti-cannibalism,
But I will say to Zippy Holler, “I truly get your consternation, but don’t let your youthful naivete shield you from the evil out there. The last thing I want to see is you renting a room to a quiet guy who keeps to himself, but seems standoffish about the tattoos on his face.”
So was I wrong to chronicle shocking headlines back in ’03? One could just as easily ask if it’s inappropriate to go online to bid on a clown painting from executed serial killer John Wayne Gacy. I guess it’s all about perspective.
I just know I had a death-stare with deadline and gave new life to a past column. I didn’t – nor do I now in retrospect – find it offensive, but if the cancel culture gets wind of it, I may be out of work and have to go back to my day job, roofing. But this is my vow to you: I won’t be silenced, no matter the double-edged sword of honesty. Should I happen to disappear, please, tell the world my story.