I enjoy hearing from all of you, I really do.
I like it when you share kind words. I take the “occasional” (cough) constructive criticism as an opportunity for personal growth. And I really do read all the e-mail you send, along with all those comments posted on TBO about my columns.
Oh yes, I read them.
I used to have a boss here who called that “furthering the conversation.”
In that spirit, I saved a few of the more interesting “conversation furtherings” from loyal readers this year to share as we reach the end of 2013.
These came from either emails or comments on TBO, and I’m leaving them unedited (except for length) just as they arrived at my in-box. Take them in the spirit of joy in which I received them.
I said in a column last week that the “Duck Dynasty” flap is not a violation of Phil Robertson’s First Amendment right: “Joe Henderson your Opinion is just that, the difference is you get to spout it out ... Joe how can you be so narrow minded to think that nobody in Washington was trying to censor Phil?”
Answer: Maybe because no one from Washington put him in jail for speaking out, like they do in places such as China and Russia.
This column was about Florida’s secretary of state trying to make it harder to vote by absentee ballot: “Wow, Mr. Henderson, your bias is revealed.”
Answer: Actually, it’s called an opinion. Offering an opinion is what every columnist does.
And then there was a column with some critical remarks about Gov. Rick Scott: “And Henderson is someone who will slit his wrist before he would criticize Obama’s record.”
Answer: No, I wouldn’t. That sounds painful and messy.
This is what happens if you voice support to build a new Bro Bowl skate park when others want to keep the current one: “Joe Henderson, Your arrogant persuasion is not only lacking substantial analysis, but it is clear that your “history lesson” is really just a masked persuasive essay about how you don’t want it to sound like one party’s view is valued more than the other (even though you clearly feel it is), but then completely substantiate your opinion with a very biased perspective and boldly diminish the value of the opposing view point. ... you sir, are WEAK, in your writing, your research, knowledge and have FAILED as a journalist.. How’s that feel?”
Answer: I wept bitterly.
A column about questionable tactics by a Tampa Police Department officer who was later fired included this phrase: “That might be the way police operate in Lakeland, but it doesn’t work here.” You Mr. Henderson are a moron.
Answer: I got a follow-up email from morons protesting that being compared to me was insulting.
I wrote a column about Common Core in which I said there were legitimate questions about the program, prompting this response from someone who appears to have missed that part of the piece: “Wonder why this ***** feels he needs to first denigrate anyone that may disagree with the massive Common Core coming down the pike before he goes on to prove he really knows nothing about it. Never mind that is has been formulated by a Stanford professor that has never taught school, and a communist friend with Obama (you remember the one that blew up buildings with the Weather Underground). ... so before he gets even deeper into his petty, ideological trap he’d better do SOME RESEARCH.”
Answer: I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but the next step after Common Core is for space aliens from the planet Zortron to plant microchips in your head that will force you to vote strictly for Democrats.
And this kind reader was willing to offer feedback on a column about flood insurance hikes: “Actually Joe... you are an idiot for a lot more reasons than that. Did you write this article just off the cuff or did you do some research?”
Answer: I humbly apologize for violating the first rule of research, which is to reach a conclusion that validates yours.
Finally, I received this one after a Thanksgiving column. Notes like this make everything worth it: “Thank you for reminding us how much we have to be thankful for. I am 98 years of age and have never read anything that impressed me as much as your writing did. I am keeping it with my keepsakes. To you and your family, Merry Christmas, good health and happiness for years to follow.”
Answer: My wish is the same for you, kind lady, and for all as we further the conversation in 2014.