What I should have said…

So, I can’t sleep because of some massive egg on my face tonight. I’ve fucked up online a lot in  one night, which has to be some kind of record. I got into it with a game designer and writer whose work I respect and love. What happened is that he’s a native New Yorker who feels, and somewhat rightly so, that the hoopla over 9/11’s anniversary shouldn’t be celebrated in some of the tacky and appaling fashions that they have. Specifically a way tacky ad for a 9/11 memorial that appeared in a Wisconsin paper. The writer chose to use the term”flyover state” to dismiss Wisconsin for such crassness and lack of taste. I foolishly just looked at the post and assumed(first mistake) that he was from Kansas. Second mistake was posting a response telling him Kansas talking shit about Wisconsin was like two hookers hating on each other. Ain’t nobody got room to talk shit. He promptly responded about his New York heritage. I went back to try and sleep, and felt very bad about what I’d done. Could not sleep. So I got back up and apologized in a message for his loss, and about what a fan I was of his work.  Also looked at his page and saw that he’d chosen to bash me for my reaction, rightly so. I got angry, and posted a pithy twitter about how it sucked to be the bigger man. Which I shouldn’t have done,because I was hurt and humiliated and that’s never a good way to go about being online.  He saw the post, and shot back a message quoting me on it, and has blocked me sending him a message. So yet again, i let anger take control and acted like an ass. I went back to bed, trying to sleep.

Folks, you ever had those moments where you think of what you should have said to people, just not when you should have? That’s what I had, lying there awake. So for those who might care, here’s what I should have said.

Dear Mister New Yorker:

I get it, sir, how you’re upset over how some folks out here in what you call the “flyover” states are handling the 9/11 anniversaries. Some of us have shown some remarkable lack of taste and restraint in how we handle it. And you’re right,sir, none of us will know personally how it felt to be on the ground there that day. We won’t know the horror, or the smells, or the fears that you experienced that day. None of us out here will know that. And I understand you having an issue with being reminded of it every year,because it will never go away for you. You also resent an entire country remembering what you went through and claiming it for their own when as you put it, “we only saw it on television”.

Well, I ask you to think about that for a moment. Because like it or not, some of us are going to carry some of that day with us, not just because of television. Good or bad, we went to war because of that day. Right or wrong, people from all across the country signed up,angry at what had been done to you folks, and went off to Iraq and Afghanistan. And you know what? Over 30,000 of those people didn’t come back. Another 30,000 of them came back with some part of themselves gone. So maybe some of those people you’re complaining about, maybe you should I don’t know, in your words”do your research” and talk to them. Maybe that tacky guy in Wisconsin,his brother or best friend came back with no legs or in a box. Maybe this is his blindly stupid way of coping with the giant hole in his life. Maybe that sticker was put there by someone’s kid who didn’t come back, and taking it off would be another piece of that child gone.

So I don’t know if he’ll look at this or not. I really think 9/11 has been abused badly and handled appallingly for gain by some. But one thing I’ve learned living down here in North Carolina is: Don’t assume, and don’t jump out of anger. I did today, and I am a lesser man for it.

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