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Whatever you write, somebody thinks it's wrong.

THE WORST KIND of hate mail exposes the dark side of human bigotry. But I don't get much of that.

Only occasionally has my mail gotten intimidating: After I wrote a column ridiculing the Ku Klux Klan's recruitment efforts in Connecticut I gained, for a time, an anonymous pen pal who sent me letters full of racial invectives in envelopes covered with Nazi swastikas. My friends in the police department assured me that I was in good company; the same nut was writing to the police chief, too.

I define hate mail liberally. Letters from readers who assure me my column is lining their cat's litter box fall within my broad definition, as do the letters that cast aspersions upon my ancestry or rail against real or imagined wounds.

One memorable letter accused me of prejudice against Italians because I hadn't endorsed any in a local election. I looked at my track record, and the gentlemen was correct; I hadn't endorsed any Italians. So I wrote back to him and pointed out that my husband's last name is Panzarella, and while I might not endorse many Italians, it hadn't kept me from sleeping with one of them.

Most of my hate mail is a source of vast amusement for me. I keep it on a wall in my office, the better to appreciate the foibles of humankind. One note that graces my wall came to me attached to a letter to the editor. It was addressed to my boss, Morgan McGinley, but as luck would have it, I opened the correspondence that day.

It reads: "Morgan, Please don't change my letter without discussing it with me. And please don't let Maura near it!"

Another note on my wall reacted to a column I had written about women. The letter reads, in part: "After watching the women in action in this country for the last 20 years, I have come to the conclusion that the United States is one big insane asylum."

An editorial I wrote about the New England Patriots' sexual harrassment of a female reporter who was conducting an interview in the locker room ended up coming back to me, with missives scrawled all over it.

"The Boston Herald should know better than to send a damned woman in a men's locker room," the writing said. "Women should stay the hell out!"

It was signed, "An ex-subscriber to The Day."

The mail on my wall keeps me in check. It reminds me that my opinion isn't the last word on anything. No matter what I write, someone always has a different viewpoint. If it comes to me scrawled in anonymous notes, so be it.

After all, I write anonymously every day.
COPYRIGHT 1993 National Conference of Editorial Writers
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Casey, Maura
Publication:The Masthead
Date:Dec 22, 1993
Words:452
Previous Article:Editorial pages catch brunt of reader hostility.
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