Jane Galt Update, and my first real piece of hate mail

[Earlier post here.]

Civility seems to be in favor here in Left Blogtown. Matthew Yglesias and Ted Barlow think Atrios went overboard. Ampersand is silent on that point, but upset about the hate mail. Atrios agrees about the hate mail, but says that if what he said about Jane was inappropriate, so is what she said about the 2 x 4s (which puts him and me in perfect agreement, except for the “if”).

He also asks his readers not to send obscene mail, except to me, and hastily adds that he’s just joking.

I’d like to modify that request. Please don’t send me obscene email unless you’re female, unattached, interesting (you know who you are), and interested. Otherwise, shoot it in, the more obscene the better, and sooner rather than later. After all, I’m not getting any younger here.

However, I did receive what appears to be one piece of genuine hate mail, my very first. (I’ve had some angry comments, but this is different.) The full text appears below; my correspondent’s name and email address are being withheld pending confirmation that the accountholder was really the author.

I’d love to meet you on a street and smash your face in with a cinder block.

Only hypothetically, of course, so don’t get mad, you dimwitted hypocrite.

Three things to note here:

First, getting this email was a noticeable emotional shock, even though it’s from no one I know and it put me in no physical fear. Hardly the end of the world, but it makes me sympathize more strongly with Jane, and with Atrios and others who say they often receive hate mail as a result of blogging.

Second, my correspondent is much angrier than any of the principals to the discussion. Jane and Atrios were seriously peeved with each other, but I wasn’t angry at either of them, nor, as far as I can tell, they at me. We were disagreeing. No one was thinking about cinder blocks. So what motivates the writer? What that he holds dear does he think of me as having attacked? (Note that I disapproved of Jane’s original 2 x 4 comment, but thought that Atrios had misstated her position and unfairly linked her to an act of actual violence.)

Third, I’m interested in the use of the word “hypocrite.” It doesn’t seem to make sense in context. What virtue is it that he sees me as praising but refusing to practice? Or is “hypocrite” merely being used as an all-purpose insult, like “bastard”?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com