On Suicide: Readers Respond
Of Suicide, and Men
Can't say we didn't see this one coming. Henry Rollins' Aug. 22 column — which questioned, in light of Robin Williams' death, how any parent could succumb to suicide ("Fuck Suicide") — went viral, and quickly had our mailbag filled to bursting. Very little of the feedback was positive.
Tanya DeCharles writes, "Just wanted to congratulate Hank Rollins for his column making national news. Way to go! All he had to do was to ride on the coattails of other people's suffering, bash depression, perpetuate the most ignorant stigmas, and look like an attention-starved has-been. As far as his integrity goes, please send him my condolences."
Some readers also took us to task for publishing his essay. Jarvis Mitchell writes, "I hope you're proud of yourselves, L.A. Weekly: Your years of promoting his pedestrian trash has finally paid off with lots of clicks! Meanwhile, the Village Voice and Andrew W.K. get clicks through thoughtful, intelligent, emphatic writing. Thanks for making our city proud."
Ruth-Anne White writes, "Sir, I have known a handful of people to commit suicide, three of them parents. Not one was selfish, not one was a bad parent. All three, in their minds, were saving their children from pain and suffering that they felt, and society felt, they had caused. Unless you have been a parent that has somehow suffered your entire life with PTSD, or a bipolar disorder, something that has affected your entire life, and your family's, I suggest you cannot empathize."
As you'll see in this week's paper, Rollins did apologize for his piece, which we published online on Aug. 26 (see "An American Problem"). But the hate mail has continued to arrive. Typical was the reader calling himself "Your Mother," who writes, "You have one less reader and hopefully more, as I will crusade against you. Henry's comments on Robin Williams were deplorable and heinous. His apology is hollow and only made because of the backlash. L.A. Weekly did nothing. You printed his hateful article and did not apologize. FUCK YOU. FUCK HENRY. I will be personally throwing away every copy of L.A. Weekly from here on out. SCUMBAGS."
Naturally, there was also a backlash to the backlash. Writes Timothy Blystone, "The fact he had to write a retraction is bullshit. This whole idea of not offending anyone to preserve the revenue stream is exactly why as a country America is losing its credibility.
"Who did he actually hurt? No one. If we have become so weak-minded as a culture that we can't allow opinions other than our own, and the politically correct corporate face is all we are allowed to see or speak of, then we are doomed to fail. At everything. Fuck suicide and fuck politically correct plain oatmeal bullshit."
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