Thinking is the hardest job

Several years ago, I started receiving e-mail from a man I’ll call John Doe. Whatever lands in my electronic mailbox is mine and I could easily identify it as having been labeled with his real name, but it’s not my style.

His early e-mails were nothing unusual — just condescending points made by a conservative Republican as to the error of my political values, with an underlying certainty that once he pointed out a few basic facts I had overlooked, a confession would quickly follow in which I would repent of my errors.

If a piece of mail, electronic or hard copy, is halfway courteous, I generally answer in kind by explaining that I had not overlooked the basic facts to which I had just been exposed, but was well aware of them and had carefully thought matters through, then decided I believed otherwise — though I am willing to admit I was wrong when I become convinced of such because failure to do so shows the lack of an inability to use basic logic.

Another e-mail reiterating what Doe had said the last time was quickly returned and the process was repeated several times until he, apparently in frustration, questioned my patriotism and loyalty to my country. This never sits well with me.

I calmly explained that when this country was at war, I made myself available by enlisting in the military, and though I did not serve in the Republic of Vietnam, I had served on the streets as a police officer in a different type of combat. Then I asked in what capacity, if any, he had ever served his community or country.

Doe allowed that he had never put himself in harm’s way for his country or community but it made him no less of a patriot because he faithfully served his country by being involved in the Republican Party — after which he once more went over my errors, the one’s I was overlooking because I’ve been blinded by liberal political and religious views. That that was the point at which I explained to him that further discussion was pointless and I would no longer open his-mails.

His e-mails kept coming, probably dozens over the years and I steadfastly didn’t open them, except on two occasions when I overlooked the name. Once I open an e-mail, I feel compelled to respond — call it compulsive-obsessive behavior. The first I accidentally opened had reached the point where Doe was using phrases such as “even a person like you would have to admit…” I explained once again I had no interest in discussing anything with him. That was a year or so ago, but his e-mails never stopped.

Yesterday, while in a rush to answer numerous e-mails about my Knoxville News Sentinel column (7-14-15), in which I spread the irony pretty heavily, about how my marriage of 38 years had not been destroyed by same-sex marriage.

Once more I clicked on one of Doe’s e-mail and found this pithy statement: “DH, Help me out. Are your columns written out of stupidity or ignorance. I actually read it twice but I can’t tell. It has to be one of the two. There is no other explanation!” I was impressed with his lack verbosity, but I responded, then set his e-mail address to go into the junk mail, called Spam. I was also brief, and deciding that rationality having failed, it was time to say what I thought of Doe in plain English.

“The reason you can’t understand what I’ve written,” I explained, “is because literal-minded, sanctimonious Tea Partiers have no sense of irony, satire or humor. Fortunately there are a lot of people who don’t take everything literally and do understand irony and satire:” I attached an excerpt from a column of 3/1/15 written by my boss, Jack McElroy, in which he listed the rankings of News Sentinel columnists, in which I did very well.

If Doe has responded, I don’t know because I haven’t looked in the Spam folder and don’t intend to do so.