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Some tips for the angry man of letters

WASHINGTON — Some time ago, I wrote a column about Dick Cheney in the form of a list of snide questions about the former veep's forthcoming autobiography. This column got a lot of mail, including one letter I saved until now, so I could answer it during a season when people are filled with thoughts of peace, charity and good will.

This was the letter in its entirety:

DEAR DOUCHEBAG (expletive) (expletive) (insensitive reference to an alternative lifestyle) (expletive) (expletive) (ethnic epithet) BASTARD:

I WOULD LIKE TO ADD TWO QUESTIONS TO YOUR LIST. FIRST I'D LIKE YOU TO ASK V.P. CHENEY HOW HE WAS ABLE TO SAVE YOUR SMELLY, FAT, JEW (expletive) FROM TERRORIST ATTACK THOSE LAST 7 YEARS? SECOND, HOW CAN HE PREVENT YOUR (expletive) (expletive) MOTHER FROM INFECTING (uncharitable racial reference) WITH AIDS, FROM (expletiving) and (expletiving) THEIR HUGE (expletives)? YOU ARE A LIBERAL, DUMBOCRAP, GUTLESS, WEASEL, UNAMERICAN (expletive) PIECE OF DOG (expletive) !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(signed)

AN AMERICAN PATRIOT

Dear American Patriot:

Thank you for your letter, which reminds me of some of the earlier essays of Thomas Jefferson.

I could not agree with you more about your concerns for public health in these medically uncertain and morally ambiguous times. Happily, I believe I can ease your fears: As a Jewish woman of a certain genteel era, my mother is unlikely to transmit any venereal diseases, particularly now that she is dead.

Mostly, however, for the benefit of the writers of the many letters I receive such as your own, I would like to create a new list here, not unlike the one I created for Mr. Cheney: Advice for Angry Letter Writers.

1) As you intuitively understand, letters that are written entirely in capitals impress us with their emotional intensity. I would advise that you adopt this form of communication for all your correspondence, particularly job applications.

2) An e-mail can never have enough exclamation points. They strengthen any argument. At the Washington Post, for instance, letters to the editor are prioritized for publication entirely by the number of exclamation points. You use 92, which would ordinarily just get you on a waiting list for publication. Henry Kissinger always uses at least 250.

3) You should try to be more inclusive in your use of racial, ethnic and sexual slurs. Your letter contains only one reference to sexual orientation, only one racial insult and only one ethnic disparagement. You can do better. Here are some hints: New Zealanders call Pacific Islanders "coconuts"; Australians call East Indians "currymunchers"; the British call Afro-Caribbeans "golliwogs"; French Canadians call the English "squareheads"; aborigines call white people "gwubs"; and when they do something stupid, Jews call each other "goisher kopf," which means "gentile brain." "Nondairy creamer" is a North American term for a woman with obvious breast implants. Sprinkle these terms through your letters, particularly in correspondence with clergymen.

And finally:

4) You correctly perceive that any message will be bolstered by assurance that you are a loyal American, but you do not go far enough. Do you seriously think that merely declaring yourself an "American patriot" is enough to persuade readers that you are not secretly a terrorist, a traitor or possibly even a liberal? In the future, include the number of Confederate flags displayed on your rotting porch, a list of your misspelled tattoos, and at least two examples of your ability to Photoshop Sarah Palin's head onto the bodies of naked teenagers.

Thank you, and may the spirit of Christmas be with you.

Gene Weingarten can be reached at weingarten@washpost.com.

Some tips for the angry man of letters 12/26/09 [Last modified: Saturday, December 26, 2009 3:30am]

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