Early this morning, a certain official from the village of Oak Park, IL left a comment on this website in which he or she discussed the village’s handgun ban, and a desire to speak with me. He or she requested that I call him or her on the phone, because he or she did not have a non-work-related email account. The official also requested that I not publish his or her name/position/phone#/etc. on this website. While I will, of course, respect the Oak Park official’s request that I not divulge his or her personal information, I decline to give him or her a call, and encourage him or her to sign up for a free email account if he or she wishes to privately communicate with me. Since he or she did not leave an email address at which he or she would like to be contacted, I’ve decided to publish my reply here:
The request for me to call the official on the phone
I’m quite willing to discuss gun related matters with anyone who contacts me, regardless of their viewpoints on gun rights. However that contact will have to be by email, as I don’t wish to give out my name, phone numbers, or other personal information. That means that I’m not willing to call back people who leave their phone numbers. It is true that I could use a pay phone (if those still really exist these days, given the fact that almost everyone has a cell phone?) or buy a disposable pre-paid cell phone, or try to block my phone number on caller ID, but I don’t really wish to go to that trouble, since it is easy and free for those who wish to contact me to create an email account with Gmail, Yahoo, or any of the countless other webmail providers. I also think that email is a particularly good means of communication for such discussions, as I like to be able to prove up my assertions by linking to various sources on the internet. This is the 21 century, and email is ubiquitous, so I think it is not unreasonable for me to take this approach. I encourage this Oak Park official to create an email account and send me an email. The same goes for anyone else who requests communication by phone.
The request for privacy
I will, of course, respect this request to remain anonymous, and appreciate the trust that the village official showed by providing this personal information. As I’ve said before, due to the politically charged nature of the gun rights debate, I appreciate being (pseudo)anonymous myself, and respect the desire for other people to not be named as well. I extend this respect to those who are opposed to gun rights, such as this village official, as doing otherwise would be uncivilized.
My apologies for the cumbersome “he or she” and “him or her” terms used throughout this article. English lacks a singular, gender neutral pronoun (no, “they” is not grammatically correct), and I decided to not divulge the gender of the village official, to help maintain his or her anonynimity.