In the last six months, I have received four e-mails that contained blatant requests for my untimely death. The first two said, respectively, "I hope you die ASAP" and "Screw you, Decker, I hope you die, die, die, and die."
The third came last week. It was written by Jeff Webster of Allied Gardens, and published in CityBeat. It was a volatile reaction to my article, "The pied piper of truth" (in which I took the position that it's just really sometimes OK for teens to smoke pot). Webster ended his letter by saying, "I hope you... wrap your car around a telephone pole at 2 a.m. in the middle of fucking nowhere. I hope your life ends as a 10-second sound bite on Channel 8."
Still, even after that ugly third letter, I had no intentions of acknowledging these angry requests for my death. Because, 1) I didn't want to legitimize the fringe, 2) nobody wants to hear some writer whine about how the hate mail is hurting his feelings, and 3) these e-mails were not, technically, death threats. After all, they only wrote, "I hope you die," which is more like a call to some cosmic hit-man than an actual death threat. And since I don't believe in cosmic hit-men, I didn't feel a need to respond.
But today-well, sonovafreakingbitch-today I received yet another chilling request for my death. A woman wrote the editor to say she was upset about the column "Sniper semantics" (in which I pondered the tenuous moral distinction between a Beltway Sniper and a military sniper). Her letter ended with the following, "Please Tell Mr. Decker I hope he gets sniped."
Which brings the total to four death requests in the last six months.
Four is more than a fringe. Four is more than a lone voice in the wilderness. Four is a force. Four more and four is a mob. And four is the last straw. Hard as I try, I can no longer ignore these vile requests for my untimely demise.
Open letter to the Death Requesters:
First of all, with all due respect, anybody who wishes death upon somebody they have never met is a heartless scumbag asshole moron. Do you even know what the word "dead" actually means? I think if you did, you might be more reluctant to wish it upon my good person.
Hi-ho, Hi-ho, to the dictionary we go: "Dead: [pronounced: ded]. Adj. 1) No more barbecues on the deck. 2) No more Scrabble tourneys. 3) No more disc golf. 4) No more roasted red peppers feasts, plates of baked garlic or mushroom camping trips. 5) No more Zepfests. 6) No more late night Rumpy binges or hungover breakfasts with friends. 7) Nada, zip, nothing-nothing but afternoon tea with the beetles and worms."
Secondly, yes, I understand there is a difference between a military sniper and a Beltway sniper. I'm not a moron. Yes, I understand there is a danger in promoting marijuana to teens or legalizing drugs. But do you understand that there are many sides to any given issue? Do you understand that this country has a bad habit of force-feeding one point of view on its citizens while squelching another? Do you understand that, only by exploring all the angles can we best decide how to tackle the issue at hand?
What an obscene waste of time it would be to simply regurgitate the well-covered opinions of the masses? What would be the point? Do you really need yet another article about how the beltway snipers are bad, bad men and bad men should be put to death? Do you really want another pro-legalization argument that hides behind the medical marijuana initiative-instead of saying what most legalization proponents are afraid to say; which is: "It's just pot, people! It's just pot. It's just pot. It's just pot. Please, people, please. It's only pot. We've been smoking it for centuries, and we'll smoke it centuries more."
Thirdly, the only people who wish me dead, that I know of, are people who have never met me; which leads me to believe that it's probably my ideas you want dead more than my flesh. Well, killing me is like killing Napster-the body is gone, but the technology remains. There will always be somebody to howl out, loud and proud, "Hey man, something reeks 'round here and it ain't your mama's stinkpit."
So hey, you want me dead? Fine. But why are you waiting around for some unknown cosmic sniper to take me out? Why not kill me your own damn self?
Otherwise, blow me; I'll die when I'm damn good and ready.