Jack Knox: My year in nastygrams: ‘I always enjoy your humourless columns’

“To hell with you,” seethed the email. “I hope you get buried. I will urinate on your tombstone.”

This was in response to a ­column urging Victorians to shop locally.

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I checked the name of the sender. It wasn’t Jeff Bezos.

It turns out the writer was upset about the way he had been treated in stores. OK, but… tombstone?

Yes, Dear Reader, it’s that time of year again. Time to go over some of the messages from correspondents who, kindly, thought it would be helpful to alleviate the pressure on my massive ego.

For example, after I wrote what I thought was an inspiring, let’s-pull-together-and-flatten-the-curve piece, a woman was moved to offer this overall assessment of my columns: “Just want to say how useless they are, especially the last one. What are you trying to prove?”

Then there was this, after I said that protesters who blocked the Swartz Bay ferry terminal were shooting themselves in the feet. “Thanks, Jack Knox,” wrote one. “I can picture you writing this column 60 years ago and lecturing Martin Luther King, Jr., about what a bad job he was doing protesting because of the inconvenience it was causing people…”

Added another in response to the same column: “Lame Jack Knox, becoming more and more irrelevant each day.”

A third person chimed in with: “Jack Knox is glaring proof of that paper’s irrelevance. Fake news. Unfortunately, people are still reading it, which speaks volumes to the apathy and ignorance of a populace too drugged by consumerism and entertainment to even bother analyzing their media sources.”

Ah, but a fourth reader of that piece had a different view.“A thoughtful, informative and well-written article,” wrote the North Saanich man, sounding shocked. “I just might start reading your column again.” Sometimes even compliments sting a bit.

At least I could take solace in knowing that readers had my well-being at heart. “I noticed your articles have been kinda more sour than usual,” wrote one. “Just hope everything is OK.”

And the hits kept on coming:

• “I always enjoy your humourless columns,” wrote a reader in Ontario. That was a typo. I think.

• In the early days of the pandemic, one reader accused me of scaremongering. “Only the media, bureaucrats and a few frustrated health groups think this is a big deal. Congrats on working to spread fear and crater the global livelihoods of most families in North America.” He doubted much would come of this “over-hyped bat soup flu.”

• In October, a tongue-in-cheek letter to God from entitled me (“Dear God, it’s the worst Thanksgiving ever”) drew the wrath of a Victoria man: “Jack Knox’s Sunday column was … not funny at all. I have a good sense of humour however that was atrocious, especially the headline. Will leave it at that!” This was also the column that inspired a woman to send me a Bible, the most well-intentioned, kindest bit of criticism I have ever received.

• Some people couldn’t get enough Prince Harry and Meghan news when the (former) royals fled to the Island. Others couldn’t stomach any at all: “Who cares? Besides Jack Knox who, in my opinion, is a bit of an elitist mouthpiece anyways. In most cases his opinion reflects a small minority. And not the good kind of minorities.”

Good kind of minorities?

• When I ripped Donald Trump for hijacking a Washington, D.C., church for a photo op, this arrived: “Really sad. Dissing on President Trump. Obviously, you have allowed yourself to be hijacked by the left-dominated media. I am sorry for you. Donald Trump is not perfect, but he connects with middle America.”

• Ah, but on the other side were those who bridled when I wrote that we shouldn’t gloat over Trump catching COVID.

“Simply put, he got what he deserved and that is what the article should have driven home,” said one.

“He does deserve it,” wrote another woman. “It’s a Karma thing. Hope he dies.”

• Once again, the Language Police descended on me with lamentable but deserved frequency. This arrived after I wrote about the local cop who jumped in — as opposed to into — the back of a pickup truck to stop Wayne Gretzky from falling out: “Unbelievable. An acclaimed writer that still hasn’t learned when to use ‘in’ or ‘into.’ An excellent story becomes ridiculous…. Pathetic!”

Acclaimed? I blush.

• What are the odds of a man named Oscar Goldman ripping you in a tweet on the Sunday of the Academy Awards? Turned out he was a government worker using a fake name. He didn’t like a column I had written about people who use their phones to watch porn in coffee shops: “I’d rather see some weirdo playing porn in public than look at your ugly, wrinkled face.”

• He wasn’t the only correspondent who was less than impressed with my looks. After a photo of my mother accompanied a column about her turning 100, this arrived: “Happy birthday to your mom. She’s so cute, you must be adopted.”

• “Jack looks like a mafia boss,” noted a viewer when I did a political commentary on CHEK. OK, but a young Robert De Niro mafia boss or a Peter “Leave the gun, take the cannoli” Clemenza mafia boss?

• After a band I play in performed (?) live during the CHEK newscast, a Sidney woman offered the following advice: “Don’t give up your day job.” I chose to take this as a ringing endorsement of my column, as opposed to criticism of my musicianship.

• Some people even paid to take a shot at me. A local couple celebrating their 30thanniversary took out an ad in which they revealed the secret to a long marriage: “Every year we carefully peruse Jack Knox’s Valentine’s advice, and, luckily, we don’t take it.”

Good call. I might be in privileged position, but that doesn’t mean I’m right. I am, however, grateful.

jknox@timescolonist.com

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