So you are a Yalie reading the Yale Daily News Opinion-Editorial page and, a priori, you wish to whine. But without the proper guidance you are in serious danger of making a relevant, cogent or meaningful point.
Don’t let this happen to you. (Your Yaleftist friends will hate you, and you might even find your supply of free condoms cut off.) I hope to be able to offer assistance in this area.
You have likely read something — the object of the whine — with which you do not agree and that may offend you. Certainly no one has a right to perpetrate such a crime on your person. Some may even frame their insensitive writing as a joke, a joke which you do not find funny.
If it were acceptable “humor,” you yourself would be laughing, but you’re not laughing, so it cannot be allowed as a joke. Having acquired the target, you may assume the bitching posture, for it is time to whine.
First off, you must resist the temptation to respond to the target on the day of its appearance. This would give the impression that you are exercising independent thought, responding wholly of your own volition and with only your own opinions. It might appear that your independently initiated response was crafted with reasoned objections to particular points, and the content of your letter to the editor (and other forms of response) may reflect this.
Instead, wait a protracted period of time, say, ideally, a week. E-mail the target piece and suggested opinions on it out to all you know, thus conveying your thoughtful sentiments over the same respectable medium as the chain letter purveyor and those nice people selling access to high-quality visual Web content.
When the blood has been boiled to the correct temperature, let the deluge begin. The ensuing onslaught of complaints will not be weighed down with credible objections based on intellectual disagreement, but will properly feature the unrestrained rantings of those whose feelings have been hurt.
You will also want to make clear that your letter constitutes an application for membership in the ranks of the Thought Police. In reading your riot act, disabuse the ignorant of their Pre-Marcusean standards of accountability by explaining that, upon being accused of insensitivity, an article is presumed unacceptable for any kind of dissemination until an adequate defense of its heresy is offered.
Be blunt that, yes, one does need to make excuses for merely detailing one’s views. You will earn an “A” in this area if you can sustain a stern, petulant tone with edicts such as “Next time, be more careful about what you print. This is not acceptable ‘humor.'”
And of course, you will likely experiment with your own whining innovations, both within and outside of the traditional medium, the letter to the editor. If you want to simultaneously employ “humor” and the art of secret writing in your letter, have your arguments imply something silly, like the idea that stereotypes have no basis whatsoever in reality.
It (almost) goes without saying that many whiners will resort to the direct hate e-mail method.
Here I cannot overstate the paramount importance of making the hate e-missives creative and amusing. While reading the same unintentionally laughable, tired tripe page after page is entertaining at first, your targeted columnist will get bored with this after a while, and any hate mail over two lines not offering him a chortle will not be read.
Personally, I am puzzled by those letter writers who feel the need to direct a carbon copy of their letters to the editor to the columnist who sparked their complaints. The implicit message must be an admission that “Hey, I know my letter is far too mediocre to merit publishing on the newspaper page, but I feel compelled to share the hate nonetheless,” but this could also be an attempt to amuse their beloved columnist. For this reason I highly recommend this inexplicable, foolish behavior.
Above all, don’t stop to think. Just keep your word processor running like a Yalie with its head cut off. After all, you’ve got to stand up and assert your right to other people’s thoughts about you.
Brooks Eubank, a senior in Calhoun College. He writes on alternate Wednesdays.