I'm sure there is actually more than one in every town. There could be thousands. But there is usually one that is more vocal than the rest. I'm referring to the crazy zealot in your town/borough/block. The one who loves to make a political comment about everything, spout about the how "the gays" are ruining his rose bushes and complain that the Republicans are the reason s/he can't get a job at Target. You know the one. They know more about everything than everyone else on the planet: except they don't and they are super annoying. Yet, they always find the perfect way to spread either their hatred or illogical thoughts.
Who would give a platform to such a person? Week after week? Your local newspaper, of course. The resident crazy person loves nothing more than to write letters to the editor because they often are published on those last pages where space needs to be filled. I'm hoping that is the main reason - as it is scary to think someone thinks they are making valid points.
Living back in Leetsdale, we received a free copy of the Sewickley Herald every week. My favorite section was the police blotter, which I've talked about before. But I could always count on the same guy to make racist, outdated, politically-fueled rants in the opinion section. Whatever he wrote was always mean, judgmental and basically unnecessary. I get the feeling that people in his life told him to shut up years ago and the only thing that would listen was his letters to the editor.
Case in point: the same week that there was a tragic death of our neighbor (I don't want to post his name although most of you in Sewickley will know who I'm referring to). He was in his early twenties and died in his sleep. This crotchety opinion-giver had just written a nasty letter in the paper, claiming that anyone who didn't have health insurance was basically a degenerate. I think it tapered off into some weird blame put on people who have HIV. Anyways, the next week, the aunt of the young man who had died of a heart condition wrote an awesome rebuttal to this a-hole. Our neighbor, being a recent college graduate without a job that offered health insurance, was NOT a loser and his aunt really stood up for him. It was beautiful writing and really put this guy in his place. She basically told him to stuff it and keep his stupid opinions to himself.
Did it stop him? Not in the least.
I don't think the newspaper should refuse any letters from the public, but it gets to the point of indulgence. These nerds get off on the public forum and I'm sure feel vindicated that their words are in print for the entire town to read. Even if the entire town reads it and thinks to themselves, "What an ass."
Our new small town of Lancaster is no different. I pick up the free copy of the Lancaster Source at our library every once in awhile. I finally found my local crazy person! His name is Jeff and he had THREE comments in the "Steam" section a few weeks ago. Yes, three, and each was better than the last. I'm sure he won't mind if I quote some of his most poignant points.
About funeral homes: "You know when you die, apparently it costs $5,000 - $6,000 for the funeral...? It seems no matter where you drive... the funeral homes have two names on them.... get rid of all these names."
Jeff is really mad about business partnerships.
About Japan: "... the tsunamis are supposed to head towards the U.S. I don't have the television on, if they already hit, they hit, I don't know.... The mad scientists, they know what's going on. It's like a clock.... (he goes on to explain what a clock looks like) If you turn the clock where 4 is on top and drill straight down to get oil, you are drilling to where 12 would be and intersect with that. We don't have to fire a shot above ground anymore; just drill down below."
Whhhaaatttt? Maybe Jeff is 14 years old and pretending to know what he is talking about. Maybe he's drunk. But I'm enjoying Jeff's Lancaster crazy much more than the old racist Sewickley man.