Ask Matt Labash

Ask Matt Labash: Hate mailers – an appreciation

Matt Labash Columnist
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Dear Matt, I’m sure you have a lot of adoring fans, but I’m guessing you get a fair amount of hate mail. What do you do with it all? And does it ever, you know, hurt? Just a little?  Sincerely, Marjorie

Well, you’re right on all counts. I do have throngs of adoring fans. I can’t go to my parents’ house for dinner anymore, for instance, without being surrounded by jock sniffers and hangers-on. But aside from immediate family members, children love me. Panhandlers adore me. Even animals strike curious poses as they feel the heat, the heat between me and you, dear reader. You know who you are. I’m talking about devoted obsessives like “Koala,” who after my last column, wrote, “Matt, are you high?” Yes, Koala. Do not urine test me. Because I will flunk. I am indeed high — on your love fumes. Also, there was this from “flurmf,” who laid the praise on thick with: “Matt Ladouche.” Thanks flurmf!  But no need to prattle on and on. You had me at “Matt.” Though in your simple eloquence, I find succor.

Then there was this from the moony-eyed  “clarkr3000”: “Labash, you’re a punk. Come see me anytime and I’ll prove it to you. Course, being a coward we all know that will never happen. I am sure you can get my e-mail address through my account here, e-mail me and we can set it up. Easy to snark behind a keyboard…..” Thanks Mr. 3000, for the invitation to come see you if I can track down your email address which belongs to an Internet pseudonym because you don’t care for people who hide behind keyboards. And maybe I will, Mr. 3000. Maybe I’ll hire that private investigator to locate the unlisted address where you reside in your mother’s basement so that we can have that windmill slap-fight or play with Legos or pretend like you’re Chekov and I’m Sulu and we are at long last running the Starship Enterprise, or whatever it is you do down there in your sad little fantasy world.

But until then, Mr. 3000, I am touched that you were so moved by my words that you did not let consistency, dignity, or self-awareness get in the way of expressing your true feelings. That took trust. Which all healthy relationships are built upon. You trusted me with a little piece of you. And I will lock that special piece of you in my treasure chest in a secret place, perhaps a secret place not unlike where you keep your true identity and whereabouts when challenging perfect strangers to virtual fistfights that you don’t really want to have, since doing so might damage the soft, pink hands that you use to spend your days anonymously trolling.

But it may surprise some readers of this column that all are not fanboys like Koala, flurmf, and Mr. 3000. There are also detractors like one I’ll call “Philip James,” since that’s his name. Philip is one of my most committed hate mail correspondents. Of his many thoughtful missives, this might be my favorite: “So now I see that you really are a steaming pile of cow shit. You fucking asshole….I hope you are sucking a really big dick belonging to the boss and not some underling. Or is the other way around? Do you have knee pads at work…..Fuck you. You don’t deserve my respect or even a second thought.”

You ask does hate mail hurt? Well, Philip’s doesn’t. He’s Canadian. Or at least he has a Canadian email address. So I understand his rage. If I were stuck in Canada, I’d probably be cranky, too. From more intelligent readers, however, words can wound. But you can’t let that affect you when you’re The Daily Caller’s premier fake advice columnist. You just have to keep moving. It’s the nature of the gig. In the course of taking stands on people’s lives and the issues of the day, it is an unavoidable reality that you will, on occasion, cause injury. And you will in turn be injured.  Still, those stands must be taken.  If you want to read one of those mealy-mouthed, on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand types, you’ve come to the wrong place. We don’t serve that here.  I see the world in black and white. On the other hand, gray’s not a bad color either.

You ask what I do with the hate mail? Periodically, I’ll gather up a big stack of letters, sort them by category (conspiracy theorists, political cultists, Michael Vick lovers, fish killers, Steely Dan fans, finger-sniffers, chronic masturbators, et al.), then I take them to the terminally ill at a local hospice. Not everyone is as fortunate as I am to have so many sunshiny buttercups in their life who will send them hate mail of their own. People tend to go easy on cancer patients. Weirdly, all the hate-filled sentiments usually cheer them. Yes, they may be headed out of this world – aren’t we all, eventually. But seeing all the ugly people they’re leaving behind, who seem to exist in higher concentration on the internet than ever before, can inspire them to harbor hope for a better time of it on the other side of the curtain. None of us can know for certain what comes in the afterlife until we get there. Or whether there even is one. But it’s worth hoping that there is, and that it provides a marked contrast. For where would you rather spend eternity? Launching forth into the great unknown? Or staying here, enduring the company of charmers like Philip James? It’s not really much of a contest.

Matt Labash is a senior writer with the Weekly Standard magazine. His book, “Fly Fishing With Darth Vader: And Other Adventures with Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys,” is now available in paperback from Simon and Schuster. Have a question for Matt Labash? Submit it here.