The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Being a Dickhead

Recycle Day by Lydia Selk

Recycle Day by Lydia Selk

I finished The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Theories of the Universe. Am I any the wiser? I think so. I know there are more questions to be answered than I’ll ever find answers for. That’s alright. I know the quest for those answers is an ongoing one. As they say, better to travel hopefully than to arrive. Or something like that. It fits my worldview. I’ll continue to travel hopefully. I suppose recognition of that is arrival in a sense. Knowing what you don’t know is wisdom of a sort.

As I look at the world around me though, I see so many who just know that they know it all. And they do get rather impatient with those of us who have the temerity to have a different point of view. On occasion, I write a letter to the editor of the local rag. They’re pretty good here. They usually publish my letters without butchering them too much. I’ve had people congratulate me on my letters. Others not so much. That’s as it should be in a free society.

A few weeks ago I wrote a letter about climate change along the lines that most of us just don’t have the scientific knowledge to be able to form an educated opinion on climate change. In matters such as this we need to be guided by the consensus of climate scientists, and that overwhelming consensus is that climate change is real, and that we had better do something about it soon if we want the planet and our descendants to survive. Rather an obvious conclusion one would think.

Not so. A few days later a letter arrived in my mail box, anonymous of course, telling me that I was all sorts of an idiot, that I should read the book written by his/her favourite climate change denier. Ok, no problems, so far. I’ve been insulted by experts over the years. But as I read further I was told to expect a visit at 2am one morning from someone who would be burning my house down, and that the letter writer would be pleased to read my obituary soon in the newspaper.

This letter caused a lot of distress to my wife and my daughter, who happened to be visiting when the letter arrived. And I have to admit that I was rather shaken to receive such a letter. One’s first reaction is to ignore the threat as one from some nutter with an axe to grind. But…..there’s always the remote possibility that there is someone out there stupid enough to carry out such a threat. Think Timothy McVeigh. So, I showed the letter to the police who said there was nothing they could do about it, which I understood.

So now I have to weigh the benefits/consequences of exercising my right to write a letter to the local paper. At this stage I have to say that the consequences outweigh the benefits, as much as that pains me. I am under no illusions that my opinion on anything is going to make a difference, even though the right to express it is a precious one.

On the other hand, I am aware that if I receive another such letter it will cause much distress to my family. So it seems that it makes sense not to write any more letters.

It still pisses me off though. Somehow, I don’t think the notion that I should surrender my rights because of one dickhead will last.


Editor’s note: Photo with this article is by photographer, Lydia Selk. Read about her great purge of baggage, both emotional and physical, here

Last 5 posts by Con Carlyon

Last 5 posts by Con Carlyon