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Readers have strong love-hate relationship

| Tuesday, April 2, 2002

Venom can be toxic, especially when an electronic pen pal squirts it through cyberspace.

There's a strange love/hate relationship between some of my readers and me. Why they continue reading my swill three times a week while swearing they cannot tolerate it is beyond me. Probably beyond them, too.

Surely there must be a psychological term for that obsessive/compulsive behavior (other than "masochist," that is).

Here's yet another example of a reader who loves to hate. "O.M." sent this last week. His missive is in quotes. My responses are italicized.

"I think I have you figured out; I could write your articles for you if you gave me the subject, but not with my heart in it."

Actually, you're doing that for me today.

"I love you when you bash the local government. (I really think Murphy is running Pittsburgh into the ground. Give him more time. His vision is his weakness.)"

There may be hope for you after all.

"I hate you when you talk about social issues. Living wage, minimum wage. You really believe you deserve what you can get."

Generally speaking, yes. That is the essence of my belief.

"You really believe if a person can't make enough money to afford a safe apartment, he should sleep in the street."

No. Instead, he should get a second job or a more modest apartment. Life really isn't rocket science.

"You believe in free markets, not pursuit of happiness, liberty and justice for all."

The free market is the pursuit of happiness, liberty and justice for all. It's democracy at its purest. Can you name an economic system more fair to every participant?

"You suffer from the same disease as Murphy (tunnel vision,) but yours tunnels a different direction. Again, I can find somebody to write your column for peanuts, and be as good or better than yours."

Actually, I write for peanuts.

"You don't support your fellow man, but you do have the same beliefs about our local government that I do."

Your fellow man must support himself. If he cannot, the government should not forcibly take hard-earned money from my family to hand out to him.

"I love you, and I hate you."

I get a lot of that. Take a number, and get in line.

"I just wished you could walk out to the street and give somebody a helping hand, but realize you would kick the trash (saying) they don't deserve enough to have a safe place to sleep."

The best handout I could offer is directions to the nearest church, soup kitchen, Salvation Army location and, of course, Goodwill store.

"Study Jesus, Ghandi, Confucius, Muhammad, Moses, not even for religion, but for their goodness to mankind. Your writings about social issues always conflict with their teachings."

Did they say government should force its subjects to practice what these great men preached• Isn't helping people by giving tough love better than enabling them to remain perpetual victims•

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