Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Latest Mail

HARBESON: It’s time to open up the mailbox

SELLERSBURG — Last month, I received an oversized envelope from this newspaper’s office. I just stared at it for a bit, wondering what was inside. Could it be a computer chip and dossier explaining my part in an important escapade?

I tore open the paper and inside was another envelope. It definitely had something interesting inside — I could feel a variation in the thickness as I slid my fingers across the paper and, written above my name and address was the phrase, “Hang in There.” Could that be a secret code? Should I have been practicing my rappelling skills?

When I ripped open this envelope, however, I stopped fantasizing that I might have an adventure with Tom Cruise because what I found inside was a clipping of one of my columns, sent by a reader named John.

The column he clipped, “Labor Intensive,” was about Indiana’s right-to-work law and John filled every available open space in the margins and around the neighboring cartoons with his handwritten comments and opinions.

John was fired up about many issues, but in general his ire seemed to be directed at the special treatment politicians give themselves. He also said, “Great article, give them xxx.” Now, xxx could mean a variety of things in this situation, but I’m pretty sure he does not want me to give them any hugs or kisses.

Let me share a few more samples of interactions I’ve had with readers lately.

Robert wrote, “I have decided to contact you because of your writings in News and Tribune. I like the fact that you put a face with a story. While I do not have an elongated or in-depth opinion of your history, I have been somewhat inspired by your to-the-point, what-the-hell-are-they-thinking, media contributions that I have read.”

He thought that perhaps I could help him with an issue he was having in communicating with the mayor of Jeffersonville, which at the time was still Tom Galligan.

Although I was tempted to respond to Robert by asking what-the-hell-he-is-thinking-by-contacting-me-for-help-with-the-Jeffersonville-mayor, in the end I suggested he wait until the election was over and perhaps try again.

Since I last shared feedback I also had the opportunity to meet with U.S. Southern District Attorney Joseph Hogsett, in response to “Who are the real offenders here?” He wanted to “further explore some of your thoughts and ideas, particularly as they relate to the efforts that law enforcement [and the United States Attorney’s Office] make in the area of drug interdiction and prosecution.”

So, one rainy day last fall, as I ingested sugar and he ingested caffeine, we discussed the problems of government’s prohibition on drugs. We had quite an enjoyable, invigorating discussion and may do it again. Thank you, Mr. Hogsett.

Another reader, F., wrote this about New Albany-Floyd County Parks Superintendent Roger Jeffers’ confusion that his job involved politics: “Ms. Harbeson: I thank you for your recent article about the politics of government run recreational programs. I might have gone a bit further than you did, by pointing out the gun in the room that goes along with any program that has the force of statutory law.”

Finally, I thought I’d share comments from two readers who have chosen to stick around and continue to read even though they sometimes disagree.

“The Honor in War” led to this response: “I know you infuriated a lot of people with last week’s column, including me. But maybe that’s because, like so many others, I need someone to poke me from time to time, and expose me to other viewpoints.”

And finally, “Debbie, it’s been awhile but I just wanted to tell you I think your approach in your opinions has a way of, in my case anyway, of seeing the issue in a different view. All in all pretty cool.”

Yeah, pretty cool indeed.

— Clark County resident Debbie Harbeson would like to have an exciting adventure cavorting around the world but she’ll settle for an invigorating discussion.
(Image courtesy of wikimedia)

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