The Crazy People File

“Crazy People”

The folder with this name sits on my hard drive. Whenever I get an email that merits the title, I drag it into the “Crazy People” file. After 16 years in public office, the file has swollen to gigs of nutty emails that most likely would embarrass their senders if they read them today.

I have a theory that people don’t know how they sound in the emails they send to elected officials. They forget that other people are on the opposite end of these nasty diatribes; that they read them, react to them and file them away.

Several years ago, members of the Oklahoma House were spending what seemed like an endless day on the House floor. We were hearing one bill after another. Since it was close to the end of session, we’d voted on all these bills many times before; in committee, in the full House the first time, then again in the full House when they came back from the Senate, and now, in the full House again after they came out of conference committee.

We spend a lot of time together in the House of Representatives, kind of like people locked on a ship that’s adrift at sea. We’d heard each other’s speeches on these bills until we could all recite them together.

On that day, we were tired, over-stimulated and stressed; all combined with an almost numbing boredom. It gets like that late in every legislative session. Mainly due to the boredom, we started talking about the emails we get.

Now there are certain people who evidently get up every morning and fire off a nasty email to all the members of the legislature before breakfast, kind of like some people go to daily mass and others run on their treadmill. Their names and the names they call us become familiar to all of us.

We started trying to figure out whose district these emailers were from. Finally, I emailed the one who we all felt was the most flamboyant and asked what part of the state he lived in. Nobody answers these kinds of emails, and I think it was the first time any of us had clicked “reply” on one of his. The person responded and asked why I wanted to know. I said that we’d been talking about him and were wondering whose district he lived in.

If it’s possible to sound abashed in an email, this person did. I really don’t think he realized that people read the stuff he was sending. In all the years since, he has never sent another blanket email to the Oklahoma House.

Of course, this person, hateful and goofy-sounding as his emails were, did not rise to the level that gets someone into the “Crazy People” file. It takes a special kind of venom, and usually a couple of threats, to land there.

The point I’m making is if you’re writing your legislator in support of Christian values, remember that someone will read what you send. Do your best to sound like a follower of Christ and not an escapee from a wingnut radio talk show. You can make your point just as well without calling people names or attacking their intelligence, beliefs, children, parentage or appearance.

Remember: When you say your are a Christian, other people judge Christ by you. Don’t be a negative witness for Christ just because you think it’s clever and witty to degrade other people with your speech.

Civility will not only make you a better witness for Christ, it will make you more persuasive about the positions you are advocating.

It can also keep you out of the “Crazy People” file.

  • http://k2globalcommunicationsllc.wordpress.com k2globalcommunicationsllc

    I worked for a Congressman, Ranking Minority Member US Congress Foreign Affairs Cmte…Crazy People Emails? U Betcha!

  • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

    I can only imagine.

  • http://oncealittlegirl.wordpress.com oncealittlegirl

    Well said. I must share this with some of my “wing-nut” family members.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you!

  • http://nebraskaenergyobserver.wordpress.com neenergyobserver

    Reblogged this on nebraskaenergyobserver and commented:
    Some thoughts from a former legislator on how to stay out of the ‘Crazy People’ file. It’s good advice, I suggest that you take it when writing to your representative, Note that I’ll bet it will increase your effectiveness too.

  • http://swissdefenceleague.wordpress.com swissdefenceleague

    Hello,

    I like Sense Of Humour !
    I think it’s a very important “Gift” and weapon in some way.
    (And surely agree that a more “Christian weapon, then bullets)
    In a “Body” There are different “Gift”
    I think they all have purpose.

    That said. Sure making a foul of yourself (like I’m may be doing on lol)
    It is not helping, If you are in the : What did say or do Jesus in your place.
    But I’m not in His Place… Just Hope (Believe) He Is in my heart..
    And as A Drunk Like The Day Of The Pentecost I’m not necessarily making sense lol

    And Gladly taking The Crazy People File .. lol
    What there is, is to Define “Crazy” Crazy for who ?
    In what Standard ? And so on..

    Being Hateful… that something else.. and there is something else, in my eyes something wrong.. It is also “a Feeling”, and sometimes be reduced by “Humour” an a bit of Crazyness ..

    I like Crazy, as long Normal is to be Blind, I like Crazy when Normal is to be Lost
    Crazy is as simple opinion.. Is some Amazing Grace…

    Be Bless with or without it !
    Wil

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thanks! An answer in blank verse … wow !

  • http://swissdefenceleague.wordpress.com swissdefenceleague

    Yes I got it.
    Happy I am to be in “the Crazy File” Very Unhappy I’ll be. to be in The “Bad language and Behaviour File”
    But as a “Good Behaviour and Hearted File” Member and still involve with the “crazy file” too, Christianly speaking I just genuily wanted to say again that some sense of humour help; and That Jesus Christ Our Lord, Love Them as He Love You and Me whatever “Files” We are into..and As in the “Christian Folks File” We should not forget that, even if that is not easy..and far from me to throw a stone on that one.. And also I’m not advocating ANY bad behaviour or language! So Courage and Sinceres Smiles :)
    (Hopefuly no too much of a bother…go to join the “anything left in the fridge File which just going to broke alliances with the “yes I know shouldn’t eat in between File… Nobody Perfect..) ;)

  • http://domandlori.wordpress.com Lori Mainiero

    Glad to have found you. I LOVE this post and have shared it all over the place. :) (Confession: I have a crazy file too.)

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thanks! I wonder how many people have a crazy file. There might be quite few of us.

  • http://believinggodtoday.com writinggomer

    Bless you in your endeavors to represent Christ in a tough environment. :)
    Thanks for visiting my blog!

  • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

    Thank you! And thank you for your wonderful blog.

  • http://perceptionoverjudgment.wordpress.com perceptionoverjudgment

    I especially like your use of the word “venom”. That is a perfect description of much that has infiltrated our world.
    Also, I like the line: “When you say your are a Christian, other people judge Christ by you”. That is so true, and a very good thing to remember! :)

  • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

    I find it sobering, and more than a little scary, that people judge Jesus by me. But it is true of all of us who say we are Christians. I pray a lot that I won’t disgrace His name with what I do and say, and yet I know I fail in that far too often. As for the word “venom” it does go back to what we’re really dealing with, doesn’t it?

  • John Ragai

    Well written and said.
    Everyone can say that they are Catholic but only a few can show others by their characters that they are really a Catholic as Lord Jesus wants us to be. I am one of those Catholic and I really need His help everyday just to live a Catholic life. Tough but worth it.
    Thank you for visiting my blog which I just re-activated. I may move my life’s blog to wordpress one day. My life’s blog is at http://johnragai.blogspot.com
    May you have a great day.
    John

  • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

    Hi John! None of us can live a perfect walk with Christ. Even the great saints had to go to confession and were deeply aware of their sinfulness. I’ve seen bumper stickers that say “I’m not perfect. I’m forgiven.” That’s the gist of it.
    BTW, wordpress is a great place for an amateur like me to blog. I looked at blogger and went with wordpress, instead and have been happy with the decision.

  • Doc Arnett

    “Do your best to sound like a follower of Christ and not an escapee from a wing nut radio talk show.”

    Amen and amen!!

    Years ago I heard a Texas preacher say, “Following Jesus does not make you mean.” It doesn’t make you hateful, either. Thanks, Rebecca.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you.

  • http://astorybyme.wordpress.com T

    I enjoyed this very much, well said!

  • http://chosenrebel.wordpress.com chosenrebel

    Rebecca,
    I don’t have a “crazy people” file (maybe i should), but I do have a file I call “Hedge Against Depression”. I recommend it to you. It is a great file to pull out once a year and read about the difference you make by standing for truth.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thanks for the idea. I’ll give it a try!

  • http://www.garrickdconner.com Garrick D. Conner

    Rep. Hamilton,

    Thank you for this very well-written and much-needed post. As a church staff member, I can totally relate to your experiences with ‘crazy people.’ And as much as I enjoy writing, I couldn’t have put it any better than you did! The part about Christians acting Christlike is apparently a novel concept for some supposed people of faith. I have an ‘affirmation file’ in which I keep particularly encouraging letters and notes of affirmation and thanks. But the ‘crazy people’ file sounds so much more fun to read! Blessings to you and your family as you seek to make a Kingdom difference.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you Garrick. I think an affirmation file sounds like a great idea.

  • http://libertyendanger.com CDP

    Rep. Hamilton,

    I enjoyed the post, I agree with others it is well written. I am a Christian and pastor and as such there are those in government, and my experience is that most in government, automatically view me as a “right wing nut” because my principles are dictated by my belief in God the almighty, Jesus the Christ His Son, and the Holy Ghost. Since I cannot read minds I presume that those in government automatically believe that I am following God’s moral which means I believe in the “inalienable rights of man”, which leads them to believe I am a strict Constitutionalist.

    And they are dead on if that is their conclusion.

    Being such how can one avoid the “crazy people file”?

    Sincerely,

    CDP

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Anytime you refuse to compromise about Jesus you are going to be attacked and labeled with unflattering names. To paraphrase what Jesus Himself told us, “We are not greater than our master” and that’s certainly how He was treated.

      As for the crazy people file, nobody gets into it without calling me filthy names, telling obviously malicious lies about me or threatening me. I have gigs of such. Most of mine comes from Jesus haters and people who are kind of nutty in their dedication to keeping abortion legal. I have colleagues who have gotten even more threats from right-wing types. Such is the politics of self-righteous hatred.

      • http://libertyendanger.com CDP

        Thank you for clarification. Filthy names and lies usually are a sign that your argument has sparked some conviction, or at least that is my take on it. So I pray for them. And I do expect to be persecuted but that should not be the roll of government or its officials which seems to be where I have encountered it most frequently.

        May God be with you in His righteousness.

        CDP

  • http://twitter.com/davepatchin Dave Patchin (@davepatchin)

    Pastors of big churches have “crazy people” files too. Politics and faith often flow from our deepest values, so when their is disagreement, the tensions are high. Sadly, these high emotions can produce horrifically bad behavior. You have my sympathies.

  • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

    Thank you Dave.

  • http://dreamsandotherthings.wordpress.com Amy Nedrow

    Worked as a telephone operator at the CIA for a number of years and it must be a Government thing to attrack the wacky! We had a file too! :) lol

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      LOL !!

  • http://www.wesleyheights.org Jim

    I am a United Methodist Pastor who has enjoyed reading your blog. When I get a bigger hard drive, I think I will start a crazy people file. :)

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thanks Jim. The Crazy People File is good therapy.

  • http://sheridegrom sheridegrom – From the literary and legislative trenches.

    Excellent commentary. I enjoyed your thoughts.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you, and good luck with your lobbying work.

  • http://onesobercatholic.wordpress.com Mary Christine

    As someone who has worked in mental health most of her life, I don’t much like the term “crazy people” as a label for “mean, ignorant, ill-intentioned people,” but I understand. Reading the comments people post on newspaper articles is frightening. I wonder if they feel no one will listen to them without the hyperbole. I am glad you don’t let them disturb you too much.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you for your understanding Mary Christine. I don’t mean anything pejorative about people with mental health problems. I would never call someone who suffers from mental illness “crazy.” I reserve that for those who are, as you so aptly say, “mean, ignorant, ill-intentioned.”

  • http://biltrix.wordpress.com Biltrix

    This calls to mind the latest from the Vortex. Another example that does not merit the crazy person file, but the way the man diatribes on what he considers to be the bishop’s failed handling of the Church could make you question his good will as a Christian. I suppose this parallel example also extends to the types of emails some people might send to members of the Church hierarchy.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I’ve long assumed that if the Bishops don’t have a Crazy People File, they probably need one.

  • http://www.coffeegodandgardening.wordpress.com akateacher

    How true it is that we damage our witness when we stoop to low levels to make our point! We should be shining a light for Jesus, rather than acting like an advertisement for the devil.

  • Miriam Wickett

    Thanks for being quite the opposite–by the gift of encouragement! And may God’s hand be on your good work.
    Blessings,
    Miriam/Blue Stone City

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you Miriam!

  • Pastor Chris

    Some of the folks I know use the term “Extra Grace Required” as the label for the file you describe. I remind them – and they all agree – that we constantly have to be asking ourselves “Is it the person whose email I am reading that Requires the Extra Grace – or is it me?”

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      :-)

  • http://evangelicalmonkblog.wordpress.com triunebill

    Well said Congresswoman! Thanks for stopping by the other day.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you my friend.

  • http://itsabouthimdotorg.wordpress.com praisehimalways

    Nicely written article on “The Crazy file”, clear and concise. I agree with the civility part. Too many people think that shouting out, jumping all over your words put their opinion over yours. From my own experience I learned that whomever is screaming his opinion the loudest is usually misinformed or not correct in their argument. They try to force their stuff on you.
    I enjoy reading your well written articles . Thanks

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you Mary! It’s good to see you here.

  • kstrick7

    I enjoyed this article! It does make you wonder why people feel they should spread their foulness around! A good reminder of being Christlike, all the time.


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