A Letter to Joe Soucheray aka Jumping Joe

About two weeks ago the infamous Joe Soucheray of the Pioneer Press wrote a repulsive article, which you can read here. I wanted to respond to him directly, but strangely his email doesn’t seem to work. I sent in an abridged version of the letter to the editor of the Pioneer Press and I decided to throw up the full response here on the blog. Perhaps someday old Joe will read it (but probably not).

Dear Mr. Soucheray,

Long ago I thought that your work, which seems to be constituted solely by bombastic tirades, and featuring little in the way of factual data, was aggravating, yet, perhaps still harmless. I thought that maybe this was just a cantankerous old Boomer, clawing and spitting as Generation X prepares to show you (and the rest of your peers) the door.

However, after reading your recent column, entitled: “We have to acknowledge the evil in our midst” (8/24), I realize that you, like so many other ideologues, are not just a harmless old codger, droning on about the “good ol’ days.” Your writing is counterproductive to the paper’s goal of cultivating an informed, thoughtful public, which doesn’t utilize vapid generalities, or dogma, when confronting a social problem.

The article noted above is a great example of your failings. In the piece you urge us to stop making excuses for some of recent brutality that has plagued the Greater East Side of Saint Paul, and to call this evil, “…what it is.” Fine Joe, we’ll call it evil. I think very few people who read about the awful attack on Ray Widstrand are going to debate about whether or not it was morally reprehensible. But simply calling something “evil” Joe is not enough, it’s just redundant. You also need to propose what to do about it.

I see no evidence of this in the piece. In fact, very little of what you say in this column feels relevant to the recent spike of violent crime on the East Side. Is this surprising? No. Because what’s clear at this point is that you aren’t interested in contemporary life in Saint Paul, or anywhere else for that matter. For you, espousing a mythology, and nostalgically lamenting that the 1950’s are long gone is paramount (a painfully ironic thing for a guy who hates government, yet won’t acknowledge how there were also huge government subsidies then). The political, social, economic factors which contribute to the pervasive gang activity in Saint Paul are subsidiary in your eyes. We better reflect instead about how conflict, back in your day, solely revolved around “… high-school rivalry, a battle of the bands, a hot-rodded “American Graffiti” competition at Jerry’s Drive-In.”

I have one thing to say to you Joe: This world, this idyllic, mid-20th-century universe that you promulgate, is never coming back. Why? Because it doesn’t exist, it never existed. Continually evoking it does a disservice to your readers, your city, and to history itself. The contemporary world is a big, complicated place Joe; I suggest you leave the 1950’s of your mind and join us there. Simply labeling crime “evil,” or declaring that you don’t like what the kids are wearing today in schools doesn’t help us. It betrays us.

Adam Mohrbacher

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