Newspaper columnists take a lot of heat. We get a lot of praise, too, and I always bristle when somebody who does public work whine about how often they are disparaged. Folks, it comes with the territory.
I developed a thicker skin as I went along in the newspaper business. But when I became The Eagle’s sports columnist in 1996, the ante was upped. I’m an opinionated guy and there are a lot of opinionated readers. Which is as it should be. The vitriol can be intense at times, but it’s the life I’ve chosen. And, like I said, there is some praise associated with what I do.
Thursday morning, though, as I was reading posts on Facebook, I came across the words from the headline of this blog. It’s not important to name names, but it took me by surprise. The comment was one of many made concerning my recent give and take with CBS Sports Radio personality Doug Gottlieb, but it didn’t fit the tone of the conversation.
“Lutz is a bias biggott!!!!”
I ignore most of the negativity sent my way. I learned long ago not to read the comments to my columns on Kansas.com. I don’t look at message boards, where anonymous people sling mud.
But I am on Facebook and Twitter often. Sometimes because of my job, other times because I’m hooked just like a lot of other people.
This comment, needless to say, took me off guard.
Where did it come from? Why was it made? Four exclamation points? What could I possibly have done to elicit such hatred?
I sent a private Facebook message to the man who made the post. He responded by asking me to call him and provided his number. Then he wrote: “I’d love to talk about it and many other issues!!!
I called, but he was at work and unable to talk. He assured me, in a friendly tone, that he would get back to me later. I hope he will.
Until then, I’m left to speculate what I did to offend him. He did say, during our brief phone conversation, that he had reached out to me and not gotten a response. I told him I didn’t remember, which at my age is not a big surprise.
As far as I know, I do not know this person, who is black. Perhaps he was an athlete at one time, but I’m not sure.
I didn’t feel defensive when I read his comment, just bewildered. I don’t think I’m a biased bigot. As much as I can remember, I don’t think anyone else has ever accused me of being a bigot. I’m a pretty liberal guy who just wants everyone to get along and have an equal chance to live the American dream.
I hope this person does call me back. I want to talk to him. I want to understand what he was referring to and perhaps grow to understand myself better in the process.
It’s obviously his opinion that I’m not a good person. And as I told him when I reached out to him on Facebook, I probably won’t be able to change his mind. But I do want to understand. I do want him to explain to me how he came to such a conclusion about me. I’ll let you know.