FOOD AND FUEL
In the five months and three weeks since readers last took over this space, my snail mail and e-mail has taken on a decidedly red-hot-ice-cold nature. Those who enjoy the column smother me in roses. Those who can’t stand my views – and, often, the fact that I exist – cannot believe someone didn’t smother me when I was a child.
Take a Dakota e-mailer who replied to my late-June column that wondered why the $27 billion chicken-plucking, cow-skinning Tyson Foods posted South Dakota rancher Herman Schumacher’s house in an attempt to collect $15,881 that a federal court awarded Tyson in a lawsuit.
“West Point honor code teaches cadets (that) ‘telling some of the truth is the same as lying,'” wrote the e-mailer. “That’s what you did in this column. You lose credibility from the well-read and agitate the less well-read.”
The reprimand was an echo of March snail mailer who, firing from the other Dakota, started his letter this way: “I have written you before and have never seen anything in your writings to (indicate) I taught you something. But then maybe some people are unteachable.”
Gee, in parts of South Dakota I’m an ignorant liar while in parts of North Dakota I’m a lying ignoramus. I’m guessing that’s not a half-empty, half-full thing, is it?
Those views, however, were mild compared to a flame-throwing February e-mail that said I was too cowardly to blaspheme the Lord myself so I “played it safe and quoted someone else blaspheming.” That column, it continued, “was a waste of good newspaper space . Do this nation a favor and find another line of work.”
Other readers wrote to insist that I never quit because I am their sole reason to live. Well, at least lunch
“I started reading your column years ago,” wrote George from Idaho, “because it was on the same page as Baxter Black’s. Baxter’s column wasn’t long enough to get me through lunch, and there you were. Habits were formed and I read you most every week now.”
Golly. Thanks. I guess.
Another, um, compliment arrived from a semi-frequent writer who began by noting he had been housebound with the flu and, with “nothing better to do, decided to give your column in the Agri-News another chance (so) I mustered the courage to read the April 10 version Guess I didn’t know that you could be that objective.”
Well, as we often said on the dairy farm of my youth, even a blind cow finds some corn every now and then. Or was it blind sow finds an acorn now and then? Gosh, this journalism thing strains the brain sometimes.
Another snail mailer wrote to say he was “sorry you get so much hate mail. I think you are the greatest.”
Ah, shucks, Rodney in Montana, thanks.
Reaction to a mid-May column on why rural Americans should support health care reform wasn’t so great. E-mails poured in from rural Americans with good health care insurance – rural insurance salespeople. The best one, however, came from the president of a professional farm management company in Nebraska.
“We work with many farm people in Nebraska, Iowa and Colorado,” he explained. “For the most part, there are very few without health insurance (because) there are many methods to secure coverage, including working spouses, group plans though local coops “
The letter ended, however, with that can’t-miss, poke in the eye every reform opponent loves to quote, but cannot defend with facts: “If you want socialized medicine, I would suggest (you move to) Canada or Great Britain.”
And what, walk away from all this adoration? Not a chance.
Guebert is a syndicated columnist from Delavan, Ill. Reach him by e-mail at email@example.com.
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