Editor’s Notebook: Why Tonya Harding shot JFK, and other mysteries
The Sierra Sun is a fairly small newspaper in the general scheme of things. We’re not the New York Times by any means, and we’re just a weekly, not a daily.
Mostly, we do our part to cover Truckee and the immediate surrounding area the best we can, and leave the doings of the rest of the world to the rest of the media.
But despite our narrow journalistic focus, we do get a heck of a lot of material in one week. An unscientific estimate is that the Sun gets around 100 letters, another hundred pages of faxes, and as many as 300 E-mails within a single week.
Of that mountain of correspondence, 90 percent of it is total junk.
The good stuff – your valuable letters, press releases on local events, birth announcements, etc. -usually makes it into the pages of the Sierra Sun eventually.
The junk, however, is unceremoniously tossed into the recycling bin.
While I appreciate the fact that the organizers of some dried flower-pressing festival in Southern California thought enough of us to send us a press release, we really only have the space to focus on local events.
Some of the E-mail we receive at firstname.lastname@example.org is particularly strange. The advent of E-mail gave every kook and wacko within the country a much more efficient means to disseminate their lunacy.
Previously, your standard lunatic would have to painstakingly mail out by hand their screeds to all those they wanted to receive it. Postage costs get pretty expensive on your average lunatic’s salary, so their message only got out to a select handful of people.
But with E-mail, all it takes is the press of a button and presto, you can send your treatise on why the C.I.A. has revived Elvis’ corpse and is using him as a zombie hitman in Guatemala to every single newspaper on the West Coast.
Among the E-mails we’ve received are countless get-rich-quick schemes, offers to help us buy a timeshare in the Bahamas (within the reach of every journalist’s salary), and a handful of XXX-rated solicitations.
One of these erotic E-mails apparently had an automatic mailing program that inserted the name of the recipient throughout the message. Thus, we received a transmission with sentences such as “How Sierra Sun can get more foxy women!” and “Sierra Sun, here’s how you can get 20 hot XXX pics FREE!”
One E-mail I received recently deserves entry into the Kook Hall of Fame. Here’s the subject header:
Tonya Harding is Lee Harvey Oswald, Claims Author of New Age Web Site
Now, I get a lot of junk E-mail that I delete automatically without giving it a second glance, but how can you pass up a title like that?
The message went on, “The soul of JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald has returned in the body of figure skater Tonya Harding, according to the author of a new Web site, http://www.tonyahardingshotjfk.com.
“Both have the letters ‘Har’ in their names. Both opposed Irish Catholics from Massachusetts whose last names begin with the letters ‘Ke’: John F. Kennedy and Nancy Kerrigan. Both victims were attacked in cities beginning with the letter D: Dallas and Detroit.”
He continued, “Both Lee and Tonya learned how to use a rifle. Both were about the same age when they became infamous: Oswald at 24, Harding at 23. And they have similar facial features.”
The best part, to me, is the final line of the E-mail, which states that the author “is a 50-year-old warehouse clerk living with his mother in Vacaville, California.”
But of course he is.
Sierra Sun Editor Nik Dirga grew up in Nevada County.
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