In 2001, I began writing a column for a weekly newspaper in Salem, Arkansas. When I first started, I tried to do mostly humor items and won several annual awards for humor columns through the Arkansas Press Association. However, my attempts at humor initially offended some of the readers. The newspaper even received a few threats of subscription cancellations if I wasn't immediately removed from uttering my gibberish in print.
Yes, I can be a smartass at times -- it's my way of dealing with the insanity of the world.
Thus, I wrote the following newspaper column, published in May of 2001, as a response to those who wanted me tarred and feathered, and expelled from the human race.
Recently, I noticed a couple of letters to the editor written by people who expressed their intolerance for what they perceived to be my lack of tolerance.
I've tried real hard to inject some humor into my columns. Obviously, I've failed.
I was born in Arkansas. Six months later, my parents moved to Ohio. I decided to tag along. At age three, I found myself living in Wisconsin. Fourth and fifth grade were in Kansas and sixth grade through college in Minnesota. I also lived in Miami for a year, two years in Atlanta, twelve years in Los Angeles, six years in Arizona, about a year in Memphis, another ten years in Arkansas, plus several other places in between. All in all, I've lived at 52 different addresses in 12 different states.
When I wrote the line "...keep those pesky northerners from moving down here and spoiling the scenery" I was not speaking of a breed of folks of whom I disapprove. I'm just as much northerner as anything else.
I love this area and hope I never have to move again. My point was that I didn't want to see a whole lot of people moving here and ruining the place. Scenery, by the way, is what was here before people came along and built roads, houses and strip malls.
In retrospect, I should've said Texans instead of northerners. Nobody wants a bunch of Texans moving into their area. They are loud and obnoxious; all hat and no cattle.
NOTE: The above comments about Texans were meant to be humorous. I even have friends from Texas. Of course, they're loud and obnoxious but they all can't possibly be that way.
I don't mind criticism. When you go through life as a wisecracker, you expect to take some flak.
What bothers me is that a newspaper subscriber would threaten to cut off their subscription simply because they didn't appreciate one tiny column in the lower left-hand corner of an inside page. Would you throw your TV set away just because you came across a program that offended you?
If you don't like my column, simply don't read it. To ignore the rest of the paper is ridiculous and to demand that your subscription be terminated is an insult to all the outstanding people who work very hard to put the paper together. Don't punish them just because you think I'm a jerk. After all, there are lots of jerks out there that need a voice too.
In order to avoid future mishaps, I'm considering placing a warning at the beginning of my columns. Some under consideration are as follows:
WARNING: The following was written by a person who is attempting to be humorous -- read at your own risk
WARNING: If you don't understand or appreciate the following sense of humor, feel free to place it at the bottom of your bird cage or bury it in your garden -- it's biodegradable
WARNING: There may be references to the author's ex-wife that seem derogatory -- in reality, the author's ex-wife considers them to be funny and enjoys reading them
WARNING: The author of the following is often considered to be a moronic jerk -- if you find it amusing, you may also be a moronic jerk
We all don't have the same sense of humor. Believe it or not, some people actually find my columns amusing. Many of them even appear to be normal.
Censoring me will get you nowhere. The world is full of wisecracking jerks standing in line to take my place. Your best alternative is to just lighten up. Who knows, you might even enjoy it.
Quote for the Day -- "I can win an argument on any topic, against any opponent. People know this, and steer clear of me at parties. Often, as a sign of their great respect, they don't even invite me." Dave Barry
Bret Burquest is the author of 10 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and an imaginary girlfriend named Tequila Mockingbird.