Monday, June 7, 2010

An open letter to an anonymous nattering nabob of negativity

I am referring to an email that I received from an anonymous poster today about my earlier review of Columbine, by Dave Cullen. Not only did this person attack me personally, but also three of my blogger friends who reviewed the same book.(I have left out the names of my blogger friends -- otherwise the email is as quoted here).

Here's the email
You are all idiots. Dave Cullen is nothing but a lying famewhore and anyone who has even the slightest bit of knowledge about Columbine knows this.

Nancy , the fact that you can read one book on a complex subject like this and think you know so much that you don't need to read anymore shows you as being ignorant and intellectually lazy.
The success of this book shows the sad lack of intelligence in today's book buying public.

As it so happens, I know who sent this email. This person left a string of rants on on several reviews of this same book.  Here's another example of her work re this book:

on Amazon (12/2009):

You obviously work for/with Dave Cullen or his publishing house.
Either that or your mind numbingly ignorant.
Probably the latter.

The only thing that Dave Cullen deserves credit for is being a lying , egotistical famewhore with a gift for making frighteningly stupid people buy into his false, worthless bs.

note the use of the word "famewhore," which led me immediately to and this person. I'd read her comments before.

and again in February of this year, in response to another comment:

However, I do understand why all you small minded folks get upset when someone dares to state the truth about your lying famewhore idol Cullen and his worthless book that should rightly be labeled a book of fiction

How can so many people be so stupid? 
Once again, she uses the word famewhore, this time with such venom that I felt like I needed to stand away from my computer to protect myself.

So let's get this straight, point by point.

1."You are all idiots."
 Neither myself nor my friends are idiots. You don't even know us so how in the world can you say we are idiots? Here is the definition of an idiot:

id·i·ot (d-t)
A person of profound mental retardation having a mental age below three years and generally being unable to learn connected speech or guard against common dangers. The term belongs to a classification system no longer in use and is now considered offensive.

2. "Dave Cullen is nothing but a lying famewhore and anyone who has even the slightest bit of knowledge about Columbine knows this."
 I suppose you were there the day everyone was shot and you know that Cullen is lying because you saw everything firsthand -- you were the star witness of events 10 years ago.
If you read what I wrote in my review, I noted that I wasn't there, so there was no way at all for me to comment on Mr. Cullen's veracity on the subject. I guess since you were there, you can speak to my comment.

 3. "Nancy , the fact that you can read one book on a complex subject like this and think you know so much that you don't need to read anymore shows you as being ignorant and intellectually lazy."

a)Well, why don't you write to my former PhD advisers and the panel for my oral exams and ask them for yourself.  When you're finished with that, I'll send you translations of works in Chinese and Japanese I've done and we'll sit down over a lovely cup of tea and discuss them, along with a quick little conversation about the relationship between state-sponsored Shinto and WWII in Japan. 
b) Then we'll have a lovely chat with former university students I've taught and they can give you the scoop on how truly intellectually lazy and ignorant I was for them.
c) Point your finger back at yourself:  you are a bit lazy in your reading skills, because I never said that I "think I know so much."  Here is the exact quotation:
I think I've read all I want to read about Columbine -- I'm interested but not obsessed, and quite happy with Cullen's book. I'm sure Mr. Kass' book is fine as well, but I'm done with Columbine for now.
d) I have a life. I don't dwell or obsess, especially about something that happened 10 years ago.

4. "The success of this book shows the sad lack of intelligence in today's book buying public."
 Yes. Well, I've just added UFO Kids by Allan Zullo to my Amazon wishlist. You know, the one you reviewed on Amazon with 4 stars, saying
This enjoyable book tells the true stories of some encounters that children and teenagers had with aliens and their spececraft. The names and places were changed of course but these are all real documented cases. Most of the stories involved benevolent , kind aliens but one story in the book was about a group of aliens that seemed to have sinister motivations towards humans.I guess , just like people, they all aren't nice! This book had a fresh perspective in focusing on the experiences of kids and teens because its usually only the encounters of adults that you read about.

5. "Pathetic!"
See #4 above.

You can disagree with me all you want. In fact, I think it's absolutely wonderful that you don't have to think like me, and vice versa. What a dreary world it would be if that were the case. But know this: my thoughts about Columbine came from my head and they're my opinions. You don't have to like them and I don't write my book reviews to win any popularity contests. They're written so I can remember what I thought of a particular book at the time I read it.  To attack me and my blogging friends because you disagree with my opinion (and doing it behind a blanket of anonymity) is just uncalled for.  I have never attacked you or what you've written about any book so why do it to me? You don't even know me.  If you have something to add in terms of discussing the book, awesome. You can disagree, you can state why you think what I'm saying is not to your liking, but quit attacking me and people who share my interests in books. That's just wrong. I've never hurt you nor have I gotten in your business.

So please, just go away and leave me alone. I don't know you, nor do I want to. Discussion about books is fun, but not when you are bullying me or people who write on my blog. 


  1. Who is this jerk? Such a comic personality! I wonder what this person hopes to gain by spamming everyone! I received deriding comments to my review as well, and just plain deleted when I realized that this person is wrecking havoc everywhere. I shouldn't have. Instead, I should have just given that nice person the attention she craves.

  2. This person has made some very nasty comments on other people's reviews of Columbine at From what I understand, she is a self-proclaimed "expert" on the topic.

    Dave Cullen, the author of Columbine, warned me that there is a group of naysayers that follow reviews of his book and that this might happen. So while I was sort of ready for it, I wasn't prepared for the personal attack. That was just low.

  3. What an absolute (and I hate to say it) idiot. That's all. I can't even bring myself to comment on how stupid this all is.

    BUT GO YOU! I hope they read this!

  4. I loved Dave Cullen's book Columbine!!!!! Loved it, loved it!!!!

    I gave it a glowing review on my blog. Wonder why they didn't email me. They can if they want...

    Here: moellermom5 AT yahoo DOT com

    Bring it on sister.

    Wait, let me say it again...I absolutely loved Columbine and I think Dave Cullen is BRILLIANT.

    Sorry, Nancy, I'm feeling very feisty over this whole thing. Didn't mean to use your blog to rant and rave and taunt. But seriously. Aths is right. Is it attention they're wanting? Hope he or she feels better now.

  5. Lynne
    You made me laugh so hard! Rant and rave away -- I don't care.

  6. Becky, you are so right! I seriously don't mind someone telling me that he or she disagrees with what I say, but calling me an idiot from the getgo is not what I'd consider intelligent discussion. As I noted in an earlier post, the anonymity of the internet seems to bring out the worst in people.

  7. Glad I could make you laugh, Nancy. I'm feeling a little less hostile now. lol Thanks for being my sounding board here. Ha! I'm laughing at myself now. Sheesh, I must have had one too many cups of coffee when I wrote all that.

    I just signed up for Intense Debate for comments, and the Monday meme was my first post using it. It's GREAT. It gives you the person's email address and IP address. I for sure won't be hearing from that Columbine commenter.

  8. Nancy, that's a shame that the person you mentioned was so rude in their comments regarding your review of Cullen's "Columbine". Of course there are much better ways to disagree with someone's opinion on something. There's no need for name-calling and it's too bad that the person had to resort to that because I'm sure it did absolutely nothing to convince anyone that he/she might have a valid point on anything.

    It's interesting that you mentioned Cullen contacting you regarding naysayers on his book. I'm one of those naysayers though I haven't been nearly as prolific as some of them but then that's probably because I'm not nearly as well-informed as most of them either. A lot of these naysayers have spent enormous amounts of time doing the reading of the tens of thousands of official Columbine documents. It's my belief that they're just so frustrated that Cullen's work is now being accepted as the one true source on what actually happened at Columbine that they're trying very hard to get the word out that nothing could be further from the truth. And maybe sometimes they don't always go about it the most polite way.

    "Columbine" was the first book I read on the subject and at the time I was very impressed with it. Then I read other books about the attack at CHS and with each book I became less impressed with Cullen's work and more so with each new author I read. I also found an online forum that discusses the attack at Columbine and found that there are other people (more of those naysayers!) who are dissatisfied with Cullen's book as well. A lot of them feel Cullen's research into the subject of the Columbine attack is flawed and faulty, and after reading their comments and some official court documents as well I'm inclined to agree with them. Some of them have contacted him asking questions about it and they're hoping that he responds to them in the near future. So far that hasn't happened but many of us keep hoping. I think it would be great if an open and honest dialogue regarding Cullen's book could happen between the author and his readers.

    I see that someone's already mentioned the Kass book to you, which is quite good. Kass has also written a continuing column on Columbine at Huffington Post which is very good too. I would also suggest to anyone who can bear to read another book or two on the same subject to please read Brooks Brown's "No Easy Answers: The Truth Behind Death at Columbine" and Ralph Larkin's "Comprehending Columbine". None of these books received the attention of Cullen's work but IMHO they're superior to his book. They're not perfect but I think they're better researched. Again, just IMHO.

    This is such a long post! but I wanted to say one last thing. That regardless, I'm just glad that even though it's been 11 years since the attack people haven't forgotten, and are still asking questions and still seeking the truth. That can never be a bad thing.

  9. That person sounds like they need a hug, a thesaurus, and a lobotomy. Upping the happy pills not be a bad idea either.

    Way to refute stupidity point by point. Watch the skies negative freaky people, the aliens might take your kids!

  10. @anonymous: thanks for weighing in. As noted earlier, I'm pretty much done with the subject of Columbine, not because I don't care, but because I have tons of other books to get through. But thank you for your post, and for the URL link.

  11. Lynne: Thanks for the tip -- I'm going to go take a look. You can feel free to come over and make me laugh any time.

  12. @Lisa: First, I never had the intention of defending Cullen's work above any others. It's just the only one I've read, so I'm sure there are many other points of view out there that are also valued contributions. Personally, I have no problem with people making comments like yours that are well thought out and intelligent.

    And as to your comment "even though it's been 11 years since the attack people haven't forgotten, and are still asking questions and still seeking the truth. That can never be a bad thing"... well, that is absolutely true.

    Thanks for coming by, and thank you for a very reasoned response. It is greatly appreciated. Personal attacks are not.

  13. @Gwen: I'm getting to the point where I just can't tolerate that kind of thing any more. I think that the person just needs a life of some sort and to move on. But the happy pills -- now there's an idea!

  14. Lynne, I loved your reaction! LOL!

    Lisa, I agree with Nancy that we are glad that not everyone is worshiping a book to be the to-go in this topic. That said, what infuriates me is the shameless approach in which we are rebuffed. So we liked the book. Fair enough. But do we really need those tons of "Anonymous" comments telling us we are wrong? I didn't write the book. I can only say how much I appreciated it. Yours is the first really thought-out "naysayer" comment I've come across, and I can't express how much I appreciate it. Simply because I saw enough of negative and deriding comments, and in some cases, personal attacks that Nancy got. It is always good to hear the other side of the story. Cullen himself mentioned that he still doesn't have information on some issues. That itself throws open the possibility that there is more to this picture than what we have read.

    As Nancy said, I am done with this topic as well. Not in the sense that I will run away from any Columbine discussion, but rather I won't voluntarily pick up a book on Columbine, unless someone legitimately and nicely points me in that direction. When I started reading this book, I never expected it to be so controversial. More than the subject, I think I've gone weary of the frequent attacks I see everywhere, that it has made me totally reluctant to dig myself deeper. Once again, thanks for your thoughts in this matter. I hope more "naysayers" take the same intelligent approach. Also, thanks for those book suggestions.

  15. Oh dear. There is never any excuse for rudeness. I realize that just having a blog of any kind is opening yourself up to thoughtless verbal assault, but wouldn't the world be so much nicer if people didn't indulge in it? I've been very fortunate so far in that I've had people disagree with me, but not throw tantrums or insult me personally. I'm sure my turn is coming. It could always be worse. I always go back to something I read a long time ago, that it's sad to be a victim, but it's worse to be the perpetrator. You write good, thoughtful reviews so ignore any naysayers and keep up the good work!

  16. Dianne - I don't mind the's the ones like the original e-mailer that get to me! I don't mind at all that people think differently than I do - it's just when they become venomous that what could have been a decent discussion becomes just an attack. Oh well. Thanks for your comments!

  17. @NancyO and Aths-Thank you so much for your kind words, it's much appreciated. And I'm glad to have found another blog on books, I'm always looking for recommendations on new books to read, and old ones too, of course. ;-)

  18. @Lisa: Well, I happen to know Aths has a wonderful blog! You are most welcome here any time as well.

  19. Nancy, thanks for this. I've shared some of those frustrations and felt quite bad for bloggers and others who supported my book and then been abused for it. I'm also open to discussions with people who want to talk about both good and bad reactions to my book, but I'm not interested in talking to people hurling those sorts of insults at me or at you.

  20. Dave, absolutely no worries. I can only imagine the kind of crap you get, and I feel badly for you!


Say what you will, but at least try to be nice about it.