I can't believe that today's column comes after two years of writing for The Daily Star. It has honestly been a lot of work, but the enjoyment I get from the experience makes it well worthwhile.
I'll try to give it another year if Editor Sam Pollak allows it. He has been true to his word and covered my back, never changed any of the column's content, and I am sure he gets plenty of grief because of it.
More on Sam later.
I can't believe how the paper reaches such a number of readers from all over the United States. My e-mail responses impress the heck out of me. I have heard from people in 38 states (also three foreign countries, Romania, Bulgaria, and the Ukraine, but they probably shouldn't count since I know those individuals personally), totaling 286 responses.
Of these responses, 242 have been positive and 44 negative. The Nov. 11 column alone got 21 responses, 17 for and 4 against.
Among the negatives, some of which seem like threats, I have two special ones. One man loves to send postcards about my column to The Star, which then get forwarded on to me.
I have no idea why he doesn't just send it to me. Maybe he wants a lot of people to read it along the way. I have kept them all and have accumulated quite a few.
My favorite is one on which he has a man with a club about to hit a baby seal. He has circled the man and labeled him "Tom Sears," and the title he gives to the circled baby seal is "The Truth." I got a kick out of that one and that once in a while he expresses his anger quite creatively.
The other is my first and only e-mail stalker. He sent the first one in the middle of September stating a few nasty things and went on to insult the paper by saying "Thankfully, you write for a small-town rag with a very limited circulation."
As you might guess, I wrote back a very diplomatic response questioning his sanity. Wow, did this set him off. For about two weeks he wrote almost daily, and on some days I received three or four letters.
This continued even though I only responded to him that one time. Finally, I had his e-mail go directly to my spam file so I don't know if he is still sending me any more. I hope when he reads this (and he will), he will save himself a lot of time and find something more constructive to pursue.
I want to tell my supporters out there that I very much appreciate your feedback, either by e-mail or just coming up to me with a few kind words.
I have tried to respond to each of your notes and apologize if I have missed anyone. Your positive feedback makes it much easier for me to keep on writing the column. Thank you very, very much.
I must admit, however, that I get a kick out of the negative ones, also. I do read them, but so many of them write so much and say so little. More than a few are two or more pages in length, but I keep them, and, knowing that my columns get under their skins in an irritating way makes it easier for me to keep on writing, too.
As for the negative ones sent to the editor, I enjoy them, also. It's just that most of them are too far gone, and any attempts to have a conversation with the writers would be futile.
Their anger simply shows their fear and how afraid they are of a conservative viewpoint. Emotional responses are the only way an ultra-lib knows how to respond when confronted with factual statements.
Now, back to Sam. Yes, I did lose two bets to him and yes, I will be taking him to lunch (just not where he wants to go).
However, before meeting Sam, I always told myself I would never take a liberal to lunch and be seen publicly with him or her.
Now, after getting to know Sam and realizing he is one of the sanest liberals I have met and a pretty good guy, I have changed my policy and now will take a liberal to lunch once every two years.
If he continues to cover my back and keeps getting grief, which I know must be hard to do, I might even change my policy to a once-a-year lunching with a liberal (and maybe even to a place of his choosing).
Tom Sears is a professor of accounting at Hartwick College in Oneonta. He can be reached at SearsT@hartwick.edu. His column appears every other week.