Why?oming

SHARE

You are looking at a man who is not likely to ever hold public office in Wyoming. Why? Because Wyoming has no system of government, of course, preferring the “lynch first, ask questions later” method.

Ha! I kid. Wyoming does have a government, and perhaps even representation in the United States Congress, though that cannot be verified without my getting up.

The reason I am unpopular there is that I wrote a column about spending New Year’s Eve in Evanston, Wyo. (town motto: “What Is This ‘Sense of Humor’ You Speak of?”), in which I might have made a few jokes at the expense of Wyomingans and Evanstoners, although I honestly did enjoy my stay there quite a bit, which I made pretty clear in the column. This being a humor column, I often make jokes at the expense of a lot of people, including myself. (Here’s one about me: I once took a curve too fast and ran my car up onto a curb and through a chain link fence … and then tried to convince my dad that I had NO IDEA why the front axle of the car was bent into the shape of Italy, like I thought my dad was some kind of moron or something, which he is not. I’m the moron, as anyone in Evanston can tell you.)

Now, writing for a Provo, Utah, newspaper, I didn’t think the people of Evanston would ever read the column in question. (I won’t make jokes about how many people in Evanston can read, though I won’t object if YOU want to.) But somehow the article made its way up there, and was reprinted in Evanston’s paper, the Uinta County Herald (motto: “Now Extra-Absorbent!”). This resulted in a number of Evanston residents sending me some rather impolite, non-spell-checked e-mails, most of which boiled down to the fact that Evanston is a wonderful place full of very nice people who will kill me if I ever go there again.

My favorite e-mail had the subject heading of “Happy Valley Jackass,” apparently meant as an epithet toward me, though it also sounds like a fun name for a 1970s Disney film about a donkey that can kick field goals or something. (I imagine Tim Conway starring in this movie.)

Anyway, this person said: “Since we don’t wear signs, I wonder how you’re so certain the people in your Evanston article weren’t also from Utah?”

She raises a good point: I think people from Evanston should wear signs. If I could be certain Wyoming had congressmen, I would write to them.

To answer her question, though, here are a few simple ways of distinguishing Utahns from Wyomingans:

• UTAHNS pull their kids out of school for a couple days a year to go hunting; WYOMINGANS never bothered to put their kids in school in the first place.

• UTAHNS are notorious for their haphazard driving skills; WYOMINGANS are known for their haphazard shooting in Old West-style saloon brawls.

• UTAH’s shameful secret is that polygamy is still practiced in some areas; WYOMING’s shameful secret is that it can’t spell “polygamy.”

• UTAH’s senator made a run for the presidency in 2000; WYOMING’s senator made a run for more beer during a legislative session.

• UTAH’s claim to fame is that it was founded by hardy pioneers who braved adverse conditions to settle a desert wasteland that has now blossomed like a rose; WYOMING’s claim to fame is that of all the 50 states, it comes last alphabetically.

WYOMING! Thank you and good night.

Let me make something clear right up front: I wrote this column for the sole purpose of making Evanston even madder.

In case you haven't been following the story, here's what happened. I wrote a column about spending New Year's Eve in Evanston, Wyo. Someone in Provo sent the column to someone in Evanston, who photocopied and passed it around everywhere. It was eventually, as I mention here, republished in the Evanston newspaper.

All of this resulted in a flurry of e-mails from Evanstoners, all of them very angry with me for insulting their town. The reason I chose to revisit the topic was simply the volume of mail I got. Usually, I might get one or two angry letters on a subject. But for an entire TOWN to take a joke too personally, and to not have a sense of humor about it, that was just too much. For my second "Snide Remarks" book, I compiled a list of all the geographic locations I've made fun of over the years. It's an extremely long list! And where I'm from (Southern California) is on it, too. But have any of those other locales ever gotten so up-in-arms about it? No. Just Evanston.

The town's over-reaction was so funny to me that I thought I'd write another column, just goading them even further. This one, I thought, was SO over-the-top in its bias against Wyoming that they couldn't POSSIBLY take it as a serious attack. They'd have to realize that I was doing it JUST to make them mad, and that their best response, therefore, would be to ignore it.

For the most part, that's what they did. As word came back to me from semi-reliable sources, it seemed that the folks in Evanston realized I was just trying to get their goat, and they disregarded me.

Except for this guy, who wrote the following letter to the Daily Herald, which was published on March 2:

It amazes me that you continue to allow Mr. Snider the forum in which to savage the good community of Evanston and the state of Wyoming. The type of sick humor that Mr. Snider is allowed to espouse is neither amusing nor professional. At a minimum, Mr. Snider's column is an affront to The Daily Herald and the city of Provo. You must realize the public relations damage this sordid, unprofessional litany does to your community. You may boast of the journalistic freedom and carte blanche of the press which allows Mr. Snider the right to pen his column. I would argue that although the right exists, there are negative consequences. Mr. Snider's trash talk, which apparently is unopposed in Provo, suggests public complicity. I can only question the sincerity of upstanding community values and morals which citizens of Provo unabashedly advance. [So because the people of Provo didn't get up-in-arms over my making fun of Evanston, that means Provo people aren't really the good, moral people they claim to be after all? Where was this guy with his angry letters all the times I've made fun of Provo? His failure to get angry all those times can only mean that he agrees with me, and therefore is not a good person.]

Image-wise, Mr. Snider is crippling the wholesome character of Provo. He is an embarrassment and a liability to The Herald and the city. I am astonished that the governing body of the city has not expressed outrage over Mr. Snider's remarks. [Maybe the mayor of Provo has better things to do than worry about a local columnist who makes fun of tiny, insignificant towns that are located two hours away.] You certainly must realize that your newspaper does not operate in a vacuum, immune from political considerations.

Most significant, what kind of message is your paper through Mr. Snider's misguided commentary sending to the youth of Provo? [Next thing you know, they'll start having a sense of humor, and I'll be to blame!] Regrettably, Mr. Snider's seditious sense of humor will only strain the relationship between citizens of Evanston and Provo. [Yeah, that's pretty much a United States/Soviet Union thing in terms of scale and importance.] At a time when community partnerships are critical for the greater Wasatch Front geographic region, it is unfortunate that your paper is being used by Mr. Snider as a tool for divisiveness.

Paul Knopf
Evanston, Wyo.

I tend to think he took things to the extreme by dragging the "governing body" of Provo into this. On the other hand, I like how he kept calling me "Mr. Snider."

SHARE