A few months ago, I reported that a student at Brigham Young University had written a letter to the editor of the school paper in which he swiped a joke of mine that I’d used in a “Snide Remarks” column in that very paper several years earlier. In the course of telling you about this, I also quoted (and made fun of) a letter that someone had written in response to the first guy’s letter, offended by some other, non-stolen joke he had made.
Well, the writer of the second letter has written to tell me this:
I googled my name for fun and was surprised to see that I’ve become “famous” for my “angry letter” in the Daily Universe. I just wanted you to know that Jon Harmon [the guy who wrote the first letter] happens to be my roommate and he wrote his letter so he could get out of a final…and I wrote mine as a joke to see if it would get published…I guess I suceeded in my endevor to appear as a “typical angry BYU student.” Just thought you might want to know.
Thanks, Hyrum! I do indeed want to know! I’m also curious what kind of final a student could “get out of” by writing a silly letter to the editor, but one thing at a time.
This whole situation is a reminder that just because we read something in a newspaper doesn’t necessarily mean it is true. Hyrum wrote a fake angry letter, the people who work at The Daily Universe took it to be sincere and printed it, and then readers like me believed it, too. Of course, the Universe prints so many actual angry letters from actual self-righteous people that you can’t really blame us for being taken in by this one. Hyrum did an admirable job duplicating the style of a pious letter, never going overboard or exaggerating the point too much.
As for why Jon Harmon stole my joke in the first place, thus setting the whole chain of events into motion, that remains a mystery.