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.

(8) comments

Scott Weber

To the Enterprise editors and publisher: It's time to replace all columnists except Bob M. who writes the firearms column (he alone has the life experiences to interest his readers).

In the many years I have read the Enterprise I have NEVER heard any of my friends discuss any columns other than Bob's.

Look at the "column writer" (I use that term loosely) in discussion here - he reused a 25-year old column that was bad then and worse now. Is this what columns have come to now in the Enterprise? Reruns of the morgue? How inappropriate and boring...

I skim some of the thread-bare "columns" (I use that term loosely) and have never come onto anything they have written that would even remotely interest me.... Their life experiences in the Cody area seem relegated to sitting at home and watching reruns of "Shameless" or some other tripe.

Reminds me of the old adage: "No art, no book". Time for a change at the Enterprise. Otherwise the "columns" will only be used for the training of puppies and the lining of bird cages.

Cliff Collins

Keep up the good work, Doug.

Don't get discouraged by the cancel culture.

They have nothing better to do than troll the internet looking for something to complain about.

We can't be politically correct all the time.

I've been reading your columns for years and I intend to continue reading them for as long as you continue writing them.

For those who are perpetually offended, you probably shouldn't be on the internet to begin with.

Have a great day...

Schelly Jordan

I read Mr. Blough's original "column" and didn't really give it much thought. I thought that Mr. Blough was making an attempt at humor somewhere in his rambling piece but moved on to read something more interesting. Then I saw Mr. Blough's retort to a less than enthusiastic reception to his latest attempt to entertain us. It would appear that Mr. Blough suspects that Mr. Johnson is a bit too dim-witted to appreciate the gems originating from Mr. Blough's keyboard. Well Mr. Johnson, I'm with ya too. I think Leno & Carson would find Mr. Blough's "column" pretty lame. While Mr. Blough implies that he is a columnist, I have not seen his name on the Enterprises masthead. My neighbor volunteered that the only Doug by that name was in the roofing business. Maybe so and he's an aspiring Samuel Clemmons. There are 2 or 3 "frequent flyers" who send their thoughts and latest Creative Writing 101 into the Enterprise on a weekly basis. That is one of the many great things about living here, one can try to emulate a Margaret Atwood or Mark Twain but be prepared to either elicit no comments or if there is a critique, don't take it personally. Most of the "frequent flyers" are harmless and may just satisfy a need to see their words in print but if you "put it out there" you open yourself up to other people's opinion. Which could also include a silent prayer that today's columnist" take up another hobby. "sic enim potest"

Doug Blough

Actually Schelly, I love when my column draws critique, good or bad, as it makes for interesting repertoire. I don't think I implied anything about Mr. Johnson's critique, except that the column wasn't an apology, but as fodder for a fun explanation. As for a new hobby, I've found golf a refreshing diversion, but I can't just quit a 30-year hobby (weekly since '92) that entails five different newspapers, (6 counting the NYT reprint 2 years ago), two published books, and the "2019 Pacemaker Award" plaque presented to me by the Wyo Press Association for column writing. (Ah, now see what you made me do? I don't typically toot my own horn, lol).

Doug Blough

Not familiar with Margaret Atwood, but Twain I'm vaguely familiar with. Didn't he write War and Peace? Ah, but I kid. Yes, I did seem to imply Mr. Johnson was too dim-witted to catch the humor in that original column, but bear in mind, Sean and I are close friends and I play off his incessant denigration of my columns, (except when he's in them like a few months ago when he said, "Now that was one of your best columns"), so it's kind of a "touche" kind of relationship. As for finding a new hobby, I've found golf to be a pleasant diversion, but it would be hard to quit a 30-year writing hobby, (weekly since '91), since it entails five newspapers, (6 counting the NYT reprint a couple years ago), two published books and book-signing gigs and a couple magazine sales. Also the 2019 Wyoming Press Association's "Peabody Award" for weekly columns would seem to indicate I may be a little more adept at humor writing than you give me credit for. (Now see what you went and done? You made me toot my own horn, which is totally out of character, lol)

Doug Blough

Well, that's certainly a biting commentary Pete, and I can tell it's been eating at you. But don't let the inserted column headline fool you - I offered no apologies. My actual title was "Some Jaw-dropping Headlines." No shame in a little cannibalistic frivolity.

Stu Martin

Ruger, Keep doing that voodoo that you do! We all know writing a column to please every one is harder than fielding grounders for Jack Sports on the “old” softball fields. You owe no one an apology or an explanation! However, I am questioning your sanity if you believe golf is a “healthy” diversion!

Pete Demoney

Ah, yes. The non-apology apology. It's not my fault I was a tool, it's your fault for pointing out I'm a tool. Self aware? Maybe not.

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