Burt Prelutsky

Now God knows I have received more than my share of negative e-mails. When I suggest that it’s time to end the War on Drugs or give credit to George Bush for preventing another 9/11 or that Israel deserves the support of all decent people in its nonstop battle with Islamic barbarians, I fully expect to hear from readers who disagree with me. It’s a point of pride with me that I answer all my e-mails, whether they’re complimentary or otherwise. But these e-mails were nearly without exception vicious, crude and, what’s more, not on point. It’s bad enough being attacked for what you’ve actually written without getting clobbered for what you haven’t.

While it’s true that I stated that I thought it was absurd for Mrs. Obama to be posing for every glamour magazine, as if she were a movie queen, I never said that she was ugly because she’s black, anymore than I took their race into consideration when I set the record straight about the looks of John Kennedy and Bill Clinton.

Finally, I received an e-mail with a link to the Huffington Post. I clicked on it and all was revealed. It seems that a fellow named Chris Kelly had devoted a column to me.

To be fair, which is more than Mr. Kelly was, all the words he quoted had appeared in my piece. The only thing missing was the context, but that’s likely to happen when you excerpt a hundred or so words out of a piece that ran about 750. Of course he peppered the piece with nasty comments, but that at least was his prerogative.

For good measure, he put Townhall in its place. At least he tried to, although writing that Townhall is the “Internet home of culture warriors Dennis Prager, Bill Bennett and Michael Medved” sounds more like an advertising slogan to me than a putdown.

Later in the piece, Kelly quoted the following from an article I wrote a while back: “If we were a racist society, Oprah Winfrey wouldn’t be a billionaire; she’d be fetching someone’s mint julep. And Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice wouldn’t grow up to be secretaries of state; they’d be sweeping out the stables. And Will Smith and Denzel Washington wouldn’t be movie stars; they’d be in the fields picking cotton.”

Even taken out of context, it seems pretty clear that I was simply drawing a comparison between America in 2009 and Mississippi in 1859, a comparison that even those, like Attorney General Holder, who insist this is still a racist nation, could easily grasp.

Along the way, Mr. Kelly took a couple of gratuitous pot shots at Christians because Townhall is owned by a Christian radio network, a fact I was aware of, and that Hugh Hewitt is its executive editor, which is something I hadn’t known.

The worst thing about being labeled a racist is that denying it gets you nowhere. Still, a long time ago, I wrote, and still believe, that anyone who hates another person because of his race, his religion or his sexual proclivity, is just being lazy, because, with just the slightest effort, you can usually find a far better reason to despise him.

That brings us to Mr. Chris Kelly and the introduction to his piece, in which he wrote: “Burt Prelutsky was a TV writer a long time ago. Then he aged out of it and became a crank. This wasn’t one of those major losses like Steinbeck. Now he writes a column for Townhall.com, the popular website owned by a Christian radio network.”

For openers, I can’t tell you what the crack about John Steinbeck means. I’m afraid you’ll have to figure that one out for yourselves. But, for the record, I have always been cranky and I hate to see it attributed to age. I do know, however, that someone who writes for a website owned by Arianna Huffington is in no position to be throwing stones at anyone else’s website.

All kidding aside, when this schnook dismisses ageism in Hollywood, an insidious practice that has led to suicide, bankruptcy and broken homes, in such a cavalier fashion, I take it personally and he should be ashamed of himself.

I must confess that I had never heard of Kelly and had to research him on the Internet. His writing career began in 1990, so I am assuming he’s in his mid to late 40s. In which case, ageism being as rampant as it is in this town, Mr. Kelly, all I can say is, tick, tock, tick, tock.

My research also disclosed that he has written for the following TV series: “Sports Monster,” “TV Nation” featuring Michael Moore, “She TV,” “House of Buggin,” “The Whizzard of Ow,” “Twins,” “Grounded for Life” and “Cavemen”. Have you ever seen any of these shows? Have you ever even heard of them?

Along the way, he put in a year with David Letterman. Of late, he has tied his career to Bill Maher, and his nose to Bill Maher’s heinie, following him from “Politically Incorrect” to “Real Time.”

Now, far be it from me to criticize a fellow writer, but being one of eight or ten guys sitting in a room with Bill Maher coming up with lame jokes about Rush Limbaugh isn’t the sort of thing that John Steinbeck or I considered real writing.

I mean, it’s bad enough having a bunch of boorish illiterates calling me a lot of dirty names. But when your credits include “MASH,” “Mary Tyler Moore,” “McMillan & Wife,” “Bob Newhart,” “Rhoda,” “Diagnosis Murder,” “Family Ties” and a bunch of award-winning TV movies, you really have to wonder what the world is coming to when you wind up being insulted by some schmo who wrote for “House of Buggin” and “The Whizzard of Om”.