So I was all set to use this space to take on the Terri Schiavo thing, but at the last minute, I stopped myself. One reason was that I didn’t want to inflate this story any more than it’s already been inflated. I knew it had reached its breaking point when the Rev. Jesse Jackson turned up outside Schiavo’s hospice in Florida. According to CNN.com, Jackson had this to say: “This is one of the profound moral, ethical issues of our time, the saving of Terri’s life.” No, actually it’s the exact opposite of that. It’s a private matter between a man, his wife and her family, and by weighing in on the issue, I’d be no better than your typical political opportunist who looks for any lame excuse to push his views.
Another reason I decided against writing the Schiavo column was, well, because I don’t care about Terri Schiavo. I feel sorry for her and her family, but what happens to her just doesn’t really concern me. Call me coldhearted or insensitive, but I just don’t give a shit about some woman in Florida who’s been practically dead for 10 years now. I’m guessing that deep down Jackson feels the same way. Sure, there’s an outside possibility that I could end up like her one day, but what some doe-eyed college student 1,000 miles away thinks probably wouldn’t matter to me at that point.
I could fake it and pretend to care, as I’ve done in the past, but that would only be a further waste of my time and yours. I guess what I’m trying to say is that no amount of talking or writing about anything will change things for the better. In my two years writing this column, I don’t think I’ve said anything worthwhile. If I had two or three or 10 more years, I doubt it would change things.
I only have you, the readers, to thank/blame for helping me come to this conclusion. I got into this business thinking that maybe I could make a difference and change the way people think, but all I’ve succeeded in doing is making people angry. Of all the people who have bothered to read what I’ve had to say (or at least the ones I’ve heard from), maybe a few were entertained or found a kindred spirit, but the majority just got pissed off. Take for example my Feb. 24 column, How the homosexuals stole my child’s innocence. I took on the persona of a right-wing, Christian father who teaches his young son about the horrors of homosexuality. It was meant to be a trifle of a piece, a harmless little jab at the religious Right. But somehow I managed to piss off everyone in the process. About 95 of the 100 e-mails I received were from people who didn’t get it and thought I really had children, taught them silly things about homosexuality starting in 1967, etc. The responses ranged from demands for a retraction to a veiled threat to a handful of burn-in-hell messages. Jesus Christ, for a liberal college town that prides itself on tolerance and open-mindedness, Ann Arbor has some real assholes. I’d hate to actually be a conservative living in this town. The only people to whom I’d like to apologize for this whole matter are the College Republicans and the staff at The Michigan Review. You guys have it rough.
Because the column so badly missed its intended mark, I had to turn it into an exercise of sorts. I had written a more straightforward column in favor of gay marriage prior to the election last fall, and I received exactly zero e-mails in response. Liberals tend to keep a low profile so long as everyone is agreeing with them, I guess. But four months later I try something the slightest bit outrageous, and everyone goes ape-shit crazy.
It’s now my belief that trying to argue a point in a traditional way with accompanying facts and logical reasoning just won’t cut it anymore. The modern media are dictated by the Fox News model these days, and level-headedness went out the window years ago. If you want to elicit any kind of response from the average American these days, you’ll need some flashy graphics, a shitload of outlandish claims and a catchy slogan touting your integrity. Rupert Murdoch’s model is guaranteed to get you a reaction, but too often it’s the wrong one.
Listen, I’d love to finish that thought, but I’ve about run out of space. It’ll have to wait until two weeks from today, when you can join me in celebrating/lamenting my official final column. Until then, farewell.
Hoard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.