Unbalanced: Love letters

Author: Carol Schaal '91M.A.

Carol Schaal

At some level, Lindsay Lohan, Amy Winehouse and Joaquin Phoenix, to choose just three primo examples of celebrity wackos, must revel in the jabs about their messy life choices. ’Cause they just keep doing whatever bizarre things they keep doing.

I don’t personally know these rather boneheaded celebrities. But I feel free to comment on them because, first, my mildly snarky comments are protected by the fabulous First Amendment, that one about freedom of speech, the one that keeps us a democracy no matter how much we may cringe at some of its uses.

And because they’re public figures, they can’t sue me.

Second, I feel free to comment on them because I figure they’ll never hear about what I’ve written. I’d be horrified if I thought they’d know I called them names. And so would my mother, who taught me to be polite.

But sometimes it feels good to call people names. Or to be snarky. To vent. To rage and scream at the stupidity that’s just driving you CRAZY.

Which is why, particularly on Mondays, I hesitate a bit before viewing the Notre Dame Magazine email and web comments.

We like reader mail and comments. Keeps us tuned into our readers’ thoughts, opinions. Let’s us know if the magazine hit the spot or if we should never ever do the dumb thing we did in that last issue.

So I open the first email. The sender loves the magazine. Reads it cover to cover. Thank you, thank you, she says. You made my day.

And she made mine. And I’m happy to forward it to the other staff members, figuring it’s a nice lift for a Monday morning. Start the week off well.

Sometimes I open the first email and it’s not so salutary. “Your magazine stinks!” a recent one read. But that was okay, because the writer had a reason for thinking that. He even explained it. And signed his name.

So here’s the deal: Keep writing. Or comment on the magazine website. Tell us what you think. We try not to take it personally, because we’ve had the chance to say what we want, and readers should have the same chance.

Just try to remember that a real person is reading your comments. And, if they’re on the website, an entire community of online readers can see them. You don’t have to be nice. You do have to be civil and clean. My momma said so.

Carol Schaal is managing editor/web editor of Notre Dame Magazine.