Monday, May 28, 2012

The editor's mailbag

I'm sure that in every occupation, people receive interesting or odd emails. It would be interesting to glance through the inbox of a Congressman, a rodeo cowboy, an attorney, or even an exotic dancer. Each would be on the receiving end of some odd requests and stories. But as a newspaper editor, I am ready to put my inbox up against most anyone as far as having the widest variety of, let's call them unique emails. Even still, among all the community event items and press releases from obscure special interest groups there is the occasional item which stands out as just plain strange.
I got one of those the other day. This email originated in London, England. (At least that's what it claims.) In the text of the letter, the author asks me to publish this new incredible information or at least get it to those involved. This man believes he has critical information about a famous crime that heretofore has not been public knowledge. The author claims he knows who killed former Beatle John Lennon.
Now, I know what you're thinking -- "They caught the guy who shot Lennon! Mark David Chapman! He was arrested at the scene! How could that be wrong?" Well, according to our English tipster, the real killer was the Maharishi who began the Transcendental Meditation movement back in the late 1960s. The emailer claims that the Maharishi used mind control to accomplish the killing in revenge for Lennon and fellow-Beatle George Harrison's quick exit from the Marharishi's movement back in the day. I guess we are to believe that Chapman's mind was controlled all the way from India and he pulled the trigger, not to impress actress Jodie Foster, but to exact vengeance for someone on the other side of the world. My email buddy also claims that a knife attack on Harrison 19 years after Chapman's fatal shot was fired.
And how does our London do-gooder know this? He claims to be a victim of other crimes of the Maharishi and his cohorts. The exact nature of the crimes or the extent of his victimhood is nowhere to be found in the email.
I'm not a big believer in conspiracy theories anyway. I believe Oswald acted alone, Elvis has been dead since the late summer of 1977, and no one is trying to poison us with gas released from airplanes. So, I'm certainly not going to go off believing this idea simply because it came to me via email -- the same way I'm reached by virtually every Nigerian businessman and his wife with those money scams. (Yes, I still get those emails too!) But this email was certainly one of the more entertaining items in my inbox so far this year.
Aside from the lid being blown off the freshly-revealed John Lennon murder conspiracy, most of my email is the type that no one really cares about. I am apparently on the mailing list of upwards of 34 ka-jillion groups who want to convince me to publish information about the latest threat to our security, the newest self-help book to hit the shelves, and the best way to find a good-fitting bra. And that is just the items that make it through the email filters here in the palatial Times Bulletin Media offices. Just think about what is stuck in my spam filter!
I do get the occasional request to publish one side of the story in a family dispute or a supposed bad customer experience -- usually to try to drag someone else's name through the mud. Of course the newspaper is not the place to take unverifiable shots on people to get revenge. That's for the trashy Internet sites and the gossip chain at the local restaurant or parking lot.
I'm not certain just what the inbox of a cowboy, a congressman, or a cleaning woman looks like. But for pure entertainment value, I have to believe mine ranks somewhere in the upper half. But then again, maybe someone has me under mind control.

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