What Motivates Them
To Write These Letters?
Gil Gaudia, Ph.D.

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Dear Sir:

I am interested in finding out what motivates someone like you to send a silly e-mail to someone you do not know, who has not harmed you in any way, and is basically not even interested in what you have to say. I am not trying to insult you, or to argue with you, or to convince you of anything. I simply am seeking understanding, as a psychologist, of how you think; what motivates you and why you think it is important to attack innocent people. I would appreciate an honest well-thought out answer.


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From: "Positive Atheism Magazine"
To: "Gil Gaudia"
Subject: How Stupid Can You Get, There, Spanky?
Date: Thursday, July 05, 2001

Why they do this is anybody's guess, as far as I'm concerned. I prefer the explanation that these feelings are institutionalized in many subcultures, and are instilled into children at a very young age. But, unlike the Santa myth, some people never unlearn this behavior until they start losing important things as a result of this behavior (such as friends, jobs, living situations, the respect of their peers, the loss of credibility of the ideological position they espouse, and Internet service, etc.).

What happens to them when they reach our Inbox is no mystery, though: Our stated policy is that when we post such material communications both to and from the originating ISP goes up with it. Most importantly, we suspend our usual policy of not posting e-mail addresses. We do this for one reason: this behavior is patently wrong from any perspective, and we want to be clear as to exactly which person has done it. We don't want one "Tom Jones" to be showcased as having done this and another "Tom Jones" to be stigmatized by our showcasing the first "Tom Jones." Since e-mail addresses are unique, we will not be stigmatizing the wrong "Tom Jones" by posting the e-mail address. That's our only reason for doing it.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
Five years of service to
     people with no reason to believe

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Material by Cliff Walker (including unsigned editorial commentary) is copyright ©1995-2009 by Cliff Walker. Each submission is copyrighted by its writer, who retains control of the work except that by submitting it to Positive Atheism, permission has been granted to Positive Atheism to use the material or an edited version: (1) on the Positive Atheism web site; (2) in Positive Atheism Magazine; (3) in subsequent works controlled by Cliff Walker or Positive Atheism Magazine (including published or posted compilations). Excerpts not exceeding 500 words are allowed provided the proper copyright notice is affixed. Other use requires permission; Positive Atheism will work to protect the rights of all who submit their writings to us.