This one... well, this one is a bit embarrassing.
I'm not embarrassed because I wrote a letter to Vigilante, a pretty bad series that spun out of The New Teen Titans and is only really notable for two issues that Alan Moore wrote and a pretty good costume designed by George Perez.
Instead, I'm embarrassed about the opinions I expressed in this letter--opinions that I can't believe I ever really held. In fact, I try to make myself feel better about this letter by convincing myself that I was taking on a persona here. I may have also just been carried away with the letter, trying to make it more dramatic while not really thinking through the ideas I was expressing. Anyway, I was 16 at the time, and this probably wasn't the most embarrassing thing I did that year.
The letter was written not as a response to anything that happened in the series, but to a recent news story about a "Subway Vigilante" who would later be identified as Bernard Goetz (the Wikipedia entry seems to be pretty extensive on the case). I wrote the letter the day after a Nightline report on the story, and my letter gives the details of that report, including some information that would later turn out to be false, about the four kids (whom I refer to so eloquently as "punks") being armed with sharpened screwdrivers.
(Click to make it even more embarrassing!)
If I ever run for president, this is the kind of thing that would surface in the media, raising questions about my consistency when it comes to issues of gun control and crime. However, on the plus side, I'd probably get the endorsement of the gun lobby.
I think that if I had stuck to the facts of the case, as they were known at the time I wrote the letter, I probably would have been okay, but it is in that second paragraph that my opinions and language get a little overzealous, and that's the part that makes me cringe. (It should be known, however, that "Reasonable Force Is a Joke" is actually the title of a rare Public Enemy b-side.) Associate Editor Barbara Randall, who began handling the letter page for this comic on this issue, claims that "the mail has brought its share of comments on the case," so I should feel proud that my letter got picked as the representative example.
I should also feel proud to share the page with the fantastic, prolific letterhack, "T. M. Maple." How great was T. M. Maple? Well, he does have his own Wikipedia page, where it states that he had more than 3,000 letters published in his 17-year letterhacking career. That beats the crap out of my measly half-dozen or so. There used to be at least two websites devoted to T. M. Maple, but both seem to have disappeared from the net.
Despite the fact that I once again included my home address with the letter, I didn't get a lot of mail from this--mainly catalogs and the like. That's probably for the best, and it may attest to the fact that not many people were reading Vigilante to begin with. (This particular issue does contain some awesome art by Denys Cowan, who is one of the great fight artists in comics.)
This wasn't, by the way, the SCIENCE!-related letter that I promised last time. I realized I was doing these out of sequence, and that one should come next.