April 21, 2013

Response to skateboarding column shocking

I suppose the lesson should be “Don’t mess with skateboarders.”

In my last column, headlined “Skateboarders are taking over the streets,” I complained, in a somewhat bombastic and exaggerated manner, about skateboarders rolling down the middle of Plattsburgh’s streets.

To be clear, no, I never really tried to run over a skateboarder, and no, I don’t really think skateboarders should be imprisoned.

I do, though, believe that skateboarders don’t belong in the middle of the street, and I sincerely don’t want to kill one with my car — which I avoided (in a squeal of brakes) by 12 inches recently, when a skateboarder cruised through a stop sign and directly into my path.

The response to the column was shocking and immediate. Actually, sooner than immediate.

The Sunday column was accidentally posted briefly online four days before it was published in the paper. It was quickly packed away again, but by then it was too late. One skateboarder had seen it, and he told two friends, and they told two friends, who posted it on two message boards, and …

In my time at this newspaper, I’ve insulted mothers, New York Yankee fans, conservatives, cat lovers, Canadians, children, God. Sorry again mom. Never once did I get more than a handful of angry letters and emails. Heck, we’re a small newspaper.

That Thursday morning, however, angry, profane emails began to fill my mailbox.

Some of them were polite, informative and well-reasoned — instructing me, for instance, in the difference between skateboarding and longboarding. A couple actually apologized for rude skateboarders who didn’t follow the rules of the road.

Then there were the rest. One emailer promised to defecate (not his word) on my lawn. Another said he would come to my house and kill me. Note to police: please check my email if I turn up dead this week.

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