THE best part of this job is the reader feedback. The worst part of this job is, well, the same. Last week, I got one of the nicest letters that I have ever received, and one of the weirdest, too.
Dear Lady: You are
a great/terrible person
First, here is the heartwarmer -- courtesy of a reader named Holbrook -- about the Changing Hawaii column, "Mom shows true meaning of sacrifice," on the strong-spirited Elaine Faumuina of Palolo:
"I would like to express my deepest respect, appreciation and congratulations for your column in the Star-Bulletin on Oct. 20. I have not always agreed with or appreciated some of your writings in the past, but you have shown some of the most outstanding and desirable qualities to which any human could aspire in the column to which I refer.
"Your comments on humility, service, sacrifice and unconditional love are most inspiring and reflect how sensitive and compassionate a person you must be. Thank you so much for expressing yourself so beautifully and being such a great example for all of us.
"(Signed) Mahalo, Holbrook"
Wow. My mother couldn't have said it better herself. Message to Holbrook: Thanks very much.
Now here's the nasty note from a guy named Paul, who "lives" in the Halawa area, about Orrel Lui, a convicted rapist and robber:
"I used to enjoy reading your columns. But after your Oct. 24 article, 'Kauai stalking case has unhappy ending,' about Michael Sanders and, trust me, I will never read them again.
"Together with your two columns on Orrel Lui (Aug. 8, 'Rape victim relives trauma of her assault' and Aug. 11, 'How system revictimized raped woman') and this most recent one (Oct. 13, 'Time for a criminal to face the music'), boy, I can tell you really hate men!
"I happen to be a friend of Lui's. I met him on the day he was locked in OCCC. I got to know him really well and found out what kind of guy he really is.
"I bet you wouldn't know him if he walked up to you on the street and asked you for a cigarette. But you can write all that bull--- about him, making sure he gets a long sentence. I am sure it makes you very happy that he received a life sentence!
"Lui was a good man. A family man. Till he caught his wife f---ing around on him. Then, yes, he did snap. Started using drugs and one thing led to another and he did do some terrible things. I am not sticking up for what he did to those people. But to put a man away for life. That is getting pretty heavy.
"I am sure you have never stepped foot inside a jail. It's not fun, let me tell you. I am sure Lui will have it extra hard as he was a sergeant at Halawa, watching all us so-called convicts. It will be hard for him to fit in.
"I am sure you would have been happy if Michael Sanders was convicted and sent to prison for life, too. For doing nothing.
"I have been in OCCC since January 1996, almost two years, for having a crack pipe. You call that justice? Two long years for .003 of cocaine. I think not."
HE continues: "If you can't write about something good, you should not write at all. We read enough about crime in the papers every day. Or do you just hate men and like to put them down in your column?
"What about all these ladies that hurt their children? I have yet to read anything in your columns about a female inmate. Wake up and smell the coffee.
"(Signed) A former reader of yours, Paul
"P.S. Would you be my pen pal?"
Message to Paul: No thanks -- very much.