Nice Work If You Can Get It

NYT ombudsman Daniel Okrent publishes some self-indulgent whining today. Oh, woe is me, I have to read pissy e-mail about the presidential campaign.

Atrios objects to his outing an anonmyous e-mailer who said something nasty to reporter Adam Nagourney, and he isn’t wrong. But I think there’s something else here, too, namely, a naivete so profound it makes Melanie Wilkes look like a cynic.

This is the most contentious presidential election in history. And Okrent somehow seems surprised that it’s arousing passion. This guy’s worked at the Times how long?

I’m not talking about the last bit, about death threats or anything like that, though it’s pretty clear it wasn’t a death threat. I’m talking about the pissy puling that goes on for the first half of that article. Jesus, you’d think Okrent’s job was the toughest one in the entire world.

Tougher than getting one’s head shot off in Iraq, even.

I have no doubt that both he and his reporters have been on the receiving end of some nastiness recently. And that’s unfortunate. If Okrent would like to conduct a survey of nastiness on the web, I will gladly forward him the e-mails from people who have hacked this site, threatened my family and badgered my hosting company. I will gladly direct him toward the Rachel Corrie Pizzathon and the LGF threats to UN election observers. None of it is okay, and no one should ever resort to threats to get his or her point across. Mostly because it’s unnecessary.

But read that article again, the first 12 paragraphs or so. Instead of taking all the passion this election has aroused in people as evidence of how much it means to all of us, on BOTH sides, Okrent dismisses it all as evidence of how stupid we are. Silly peons, to care so much.

People actually are dying, Mr. Okrent, and this election may be the only way some of us feel we can stop it. I’m sorry, but threats aside, we may have to impose on your time a few weeks more. Try to bear the burden gracefully.