Friday, November 5, 1993 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Mike Royko

The Politically Smug Offer To Correct My Many Flaws

Chicago Tribune

AS hard as I try to be sensitive and politically correct, I can't avoid bumbling my way into boorish opinions, thus offending those who are truly enlightened.

And it seems to be getting worse all the time. Before noon today, I heard from four members of four groups who bawled me out for insulting them in recent columns.

It began with Erin Gallob, of Crawford, Colo., who didn't like something I wrote about politically correct choices of Halloween costumes for children.

She says: "You ask why should we be sensitive to the feelings of witches?

"My reply: Witchcraft or Wicce is a legitimate, nature-based religion practiced by many people both in America and abroad, and should be accorded the same respect as Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, etc.

"The witch portrayed today at Halloween is the Goddess in her crone aspect. She signifies the dying year and the wisdom that comes with age.

"It was only after the onset of Christianity that the Pagan Wisewoman became a figure of fear and hatred.

"So there is, as you can see, a very good reason to be sensitive to the feelings of witches like myself."

OK, from now on I will be sensitive to the feelings of Ms. Gallob and other witches.

But not vampires. Terrible drinkers. Don't like 'em, don't trust 'em; never have, never will, and I don't want them living next door to me. And I will continue to speak out against them. Werewolves, too. Keep you awake all night with their damn howling.

Next, I managed to anger Edward L. Koven, of Highland Park, Ill., by recounting anecdotes about John Kruk, the wise-cracking Philadelphia baseball player.

One was when a female fan saw Kruk smoking and berated him, saying that an athlete should not use tobacco. Kruk responded, "Lady, I'm not an athlete, I'm a baseball player."

This prompted Mr. Koven to say that my "concept of a hero, John Kruk, is quite warped."

"Since tobacco is a drug containing at least 43 carcinogens and toxins, it should be added to the list of other drugs banned in baseball. Tobacco kills. Kruk and other ballplayers should spread that message - not poisonous tobacco smoke.

"Perhaps you could find other heroes, such as the physicians, nurses and family members who care for and treat the millions of victims of tobacco smoke."

OK, I vow to never again be so warped as to write favorably about Kruk, that despicable spewer of carcinogens and toxins. And to think I cheered for him and his team in the World Series. I am so ashamed.

The third rebuke came from Frank De Avila, of Chicago, who was offended by a column I wrote about Mexico's refusal to extradite Mexicans who commit crimes in the United States, then flee back to their homeland.

De Avila said that I am a known racist and have "single-handedly managed to humiliate millions of honest and law-abiding Mexicans and Mexican-Americans," and that I "implied that they are child abusers, rapists, murderers and drug smugglers."

Well, the last thing I want to do is insult "millions" of law-abiding people. And it was insensitive of me not to realize that when I wrote about specific fugitives, such as the man who raped and almost murdered a 5-year-old girl, millions of law-abiding Mexicans and Mexican-Americans would assume that I was accusing them of being rapists.

Nor will I ever write about any criminals of Polish, Scandinavian, Italian, Greek, German or Asian ancestry, or those who are Catholic or Protestant, and those who are bald, tall, short, medium-height, nearsighted or red-haired, because I wouldn't want to insult the hundreds of millions, or even billions of people who make up those groups.

Besides my being insensitive, our switchboard and mail room couldn't handle all the cries of anguish.

So I apologize to anyone who is of the same ethnic background as serial killer John Gacy, whatever it is. When I said Gacy is a creep, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings.

Finally, there is a Mrs. Johnson, who said she lives in the University of Chicago neighborhood, but did not tell me her first name. However, she did say that I am a hopeless white bigot because I disagreed with the jury's rather mild verdict in the Reginald Denny case.

"What does a racist like you know about what those two boys have been through?" she shouted into the phone. "What do you know about how they grew up being deprived and being disrespected? All you know about is that stupid videotape. What do you know about the social conditions and the economics that forced these boys to do what they did? If you weren't so racist and ignorant, you'd know about those things and you wouldn't write the way you did."

She made a compelling argument. Yes, it is true that social and economic conditions contribute to crime. And they surely were a factor in the attack on truck driver Reginald Denny.

So I must concede that if Damian Williams had been born in a wealthy and privileged environment, he would not have picked up that brick and bashed Reginald Denny in the head.

Maybe he would have used a polo mallet.

(Copyright, 1993, The Chicago Tribune)

Mike Royko's column appears Friday on editorial pages of The Times.

Copyright (c) 1993 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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