My Email Correspondence With Henry Rollins

Following this article, I emailed Henry Rollins regarding his ableist attack upon people who have committed suicide. I publish the full correspodence below, in order to ensure that Rollins stands by what he committed to in his emails.

Email 1 – Me to Rollins

I used to love your music and writing. I have recently come to realise that you are a vile, disgusting and pernicious human being.

I have written an article in response to your ableist shit about Robin Williams. Read it. [Link was included.]

I am disgusted by you and I demand a response. How dare you spew such reprehensible nonsense. How dare you publish this filth.

Jame R. Bell.

Email 2 – Rollins to me

James, thanks for the letter. I have been learning from the letters I have been getting that there is a lot about severe depression that I don’t understand and I need to educate myself to evolve on the issue. I wish RW was still around. It is difficult for me to understand how someone could leave his kids and all the people all over the world who loved him. I could never do that. Then again, I don’t have severe depression. I have had a few people I know get killed. When someone takes themselves out, I get mad about it all over again. Thank you for taking the time to write. Bye. Henry

Email 3 – Me to Rollins

This appears to be standardised.

I appreciate that it is difficult to understand the impulse that goes into depression. However, in no manner does this legitamise the publication of sentences like this: ‘Almost 40,000 people a year kill themselves in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In my opinion, that is 40,000 people who blew it.’ When you publish things like this, not only are you insulting the dead, you are insulting their families, their friends, everyone who knew them. The 40,000 people who “blew it” (to use your digusting nomenclature) deserve and require a public apology from you and a retraction of your article.

Not understanding the phenomenon is not an excuse. An apology in an email is not enough. Real fucking people die from this. Your condesention is not enough.

James R. Bell

Email 4 – Rollins to me

No, not standardized, I wrote you back. I live in Los Angeles, it’s death city. So many people I know have been murdered, killed themselves. I drive around and see places where I used to see people alive and now they’re gone. I am sick of it. I carry them around with me and it doesn’t get better. I have not committed any crime. If I am ignorant on something, I’ll educate myself. I think not understanding is an excuse. Not wanting to learn, that’s not an excuse. Thanks. Henry

Email 5 – Me to Rollins

Then educate yourself before you publish articles attacking people who have no other choice in the matter.

I’ve been suicidally depressed myself. I’ve attempted it. I’ve known people that have killed themselves. The article you published makes it something that these people should feel guilty about that. That is heinous.

As I said, these people deserve a public apology and a retraction of your article. Will this happen? If so, when?

James.

Email 6 – Rollins to me

I wrote a thing that will be out soon. Thanks and glad you’re still around. Henry

Email 7 – Me to Rollins

I will be publishing these emails in order to ensure that happens.

James.

Email 8 – Rollins to me

gee, thanks for asking me!

Email 9 – Me to Rollins

When you publish statements condemning people that commit suicide, you should expect people to retaliate. It’s entirely justified.

James.

Email 10 – Rollins to me

got it


What precisely Rollins’ next article will say, only time will tell. Comment will certainly be available on this blog.

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11 thoughts on “My Email Correspondence With Henry Rollins”

  1. I use to think like you until I had a close friend blow his head off with a revolver.

    Coming from a person who list a very close friend to Suicide, Mr. Rollins is right on all accounts. What Mr. Williams did is extremely selfish. Praised for his empathy, did he not realize the pain every person who ever love him, myself included, endured the days surrounding his death? Could you imagine what that must be like for his children?

    To this day, when I have memories of my friend and the things we enjoyed in our past, all I feel is pain. Regardless if its a song, a saying, or a joke, if it reminds me of him it makes me want to sit down and cry. I wonder if he knew how much I lived him. I wonder if hebwasnsilent and resolved or filled with tears in his last moments. I wonder if he thought of me that day as I have thought about him every day since.

    My friend and I knew each other for 10 years and its been 12 years since his death, and it may gave been yesterday as the pain is still so fresh. Its haunted…its haunting…amf frankly the pain is so bad at times, I wish I never knew him.

    Doing this to your child…..my god, how absolutely horrific. I wonder why my friend didn’t know I loved them….and why didn’t they live me back enough to stay and I’m not family, a child or a lover…….COULD YOU IMAGINE HOW A CHILD WOULD FEEL?

    And it compounds upon itself…now, when I see a robin Williams fill or see him mentioned in an article, not only will I mourn Robin, I also feel the pain of mourning my friend who so diligently killed himself just like robin did..

    What a fuckiny waste for all parties involved

    Sincerely,
    The Damage Left Behind.

    1. I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. I’m equally sorry to hear about your attitude toward him.

      Here’s the thing: it is not about you. Those who commit suicide do not weigh up whether or not they’re going to hurt people, whether or not they “love people enough to stay”. Suicide is a death & that is tragic; it is hard to deal with. I understand that. It is not, however, some1 choosing to inflict grief on you, to “give in” or “being selfish”. Consider it in the same way that some1 dies from any other illness or disease.

      As I said, I am sorry for your loss. I hope, after time, you might question your ableism & chauvanism enough to think about why your friend might have shot themself, without making it about you.

      James.

      1. I think you made a point in your own response as to why people feel it is selfish. You said “Those who commit suicide do not weigh up whether or not they’re going to hurt people, whether or not they ‘love people enough to stay'”. That to me at least sounds like a selfish action.
        I agree with you that suicide is not selfish, but its ideas like that that people have about suicide that lead them to believe it is selfish along with a variety of other things such as religion, ideas of parents, community, moral philosophy etc. Im not trying to imply either that your post put that idea in peoples heads but rather, it already exists there (in peoples heads). You did clarify very well with the sentence “Consider it in the same way that some1 dies from any other illness or disease.” That very much puts it into perspective, in the same way that cancer may eat away at a persons body and strength depression can do the same.
        That isnt to say I agree with your arguments 100%. I feel your sentiment and I understand you mean well, but by speaking in the confrontational way you did not only to “The Damage Left Behind” but also to Henry Rollins will not bring anybody closer to your way of thinking.
        Id be happy to get a response from you to know your thoughts about my thoughts.

        Zach

      2. Hey Zach,

        I do understand that the idea of suicide being selfish is very much in people’s head & that certain phrases etc play into that paradigm more than others. Largely, phrases like the 1 you’ve quoted are given meaning by context – ie the 1st sentence you quoted could easily be misinterpreted if placed outside of my argument. As you said, ‘a variety of other things such as religion, ideas of parents, community, moral philosophy etc’ lead people to believe suicide is selfish. The concept of suicide being selfish, a choice etc etc is the hegemonic (dominant) idea of our society. In that context, I think that pretty much all phrases or arguments are going to suffer from some taint of that argument. The important sentences are the 1s that provide clarity to the rest of my argument, like the 2nd sentence you quoted.

        In terms of my confrontational for of addresse to “The Damage Left Behind” & Rollins – I think it is extremely important to be direct with people when you disagree with their ideas, to point out the logical fallacies, the consequences of their arguments, without reservation. Unfortunately, unless we were talking about something purely academic, this inevitably comes across as blunt or rude. However, I don’t think that softening my arguments would have any effect on people. Human beings respond to confrontation a lot more than they respond to a softly, softly approach – which comes across as advice, a minor complaint etc.

        Thanks for your comments.

        James.

  2. I’m finding the entire issue – and I took Henry to pieces on my own Facebook page and on Twitter over it – to be puzzling.

    What no one seems to want to look at is that to diminish people who can no longer cope with being alive, to make it All About You when in fact it has nothing to do with you, is to take away their choices. If you do that, if you make it all about yourself and those left behind, you are diminishing the worth as a human being of the very person you claim to have loved.

    Anti-choice and dehumanisation. Charming.

    Dear Damage Left Behind, this is for you.

    I have multple sclerosis. I’ve had it for twelve years (and that’s just when the official diagnosis was given). I’m a writer, with eighteen published novels, and the diseasse is slowly leaching out my ability to remember things properly. I’m a guitar player, have been one for coming up on half a century; every move on the fretboard now requires my brain to secifically order my fingers to do it because of the dead nerves thanks to the disease. Eventually, it will put me in a wheelchair, having robbed me of the ability to do everything I live to do. Have a look at Richard Pryor or Annette Funicello or Ronnie Laine.

    Try living with that, and see how “tough” you are. Try reaching the point where the sweet beckoning darkness, where there’s no pain and no memory loss and no paralysis, becomes too hard to resist, and then maybe you can talk.

    No one’s life is “owed” to you. And neither is yours – you make your choices.

  3. Uaoh.I didn’t expect Henri Rollins to be so ignorant and stupid about depression and suicide. uaoh! I really hope he apologized big time

  4. Uuuummmm it’s not all about youuuuuuuuuuu
    Ummmmmmmmm seems like it’s all about youu in you’re mind anddd your butt hurt about something
    A dude said something
    No one asked these four questions
    Yeah? And? So? What?
    I’m sick of these “you should make a fuckin apology cunt” things if you say something you probably mean what you say why the fuck would you want to apologise for it and your not hurting anybody then so what
    So if you’re trying to make someone apologise for something you personally find offensive number one you’ve just made it alllllll about yourself and number 2 your a dictator and if henry rollins came out and jerked off in public and said “I’m sahhh serryyyy” nothing would change anywhere at all soooo I think it would be more interesting to see you publicly just admit that you’re one of those people we allll knowww that are just into drama and getting some response for you’re own weird pleasure you didn’t know robbins really if you could just bring yourself to admit it it you don’t care you just don’t care and neither does anyone else and that’s ok but admit it! Like I’ll be honest right now I wrote this because I like henry rollins he’s a hero of mine he sticks up for me in ways he’ll never know I’m gonna stick up for him andd I wanted to see if I’d get a reply for my own sick sense of pleasure that’s just a bit O truth it’s fun and shall set you free as they say

    P.s sorry for the spelling mistakes I know you’ll want to give me a hard time about it being and “intiellectual” and all but I know you can understand it muhuhahaha

  5. I agree with your stance, and I’m glad you were one of many who wrote in to call him out on it. Rarely do I ever disagree with something Henry says, but this view of his was obviously uninformed and much too harsh in the wake of such a tragedy.

    I have also battled severe depression pretty much throughout my whole life, so I’m familiar with the subject. I respect your opinion (and the fact that you took time to write him), but I do take issue with your continued correspondence to an extent. He does admit that he’s wrong and was ignorant of the issue, after all. I also respect someone who can listen to dissenting opinions and accept what the opposing side is saying.

    You and I are knowledgeable on the subject; he is not. It is for us to educate, and in this instance it seemed to work. I thought his apology (later published) was sincere and it smoothed over my own distaste for what he’d said. But I think you could have been less harsh in your last few emails. It didn’t seem like you were contributing to the discussion other than to browbeat him for the same offense.

    One other thing: I don’t know if you consider yourself “just a blogger” or a more serious writer, but especially when you use the word “publish” it doesn’t matter. As writers, our reputations follow us. Not only is it illegal to post another’s emails without permission, it is severely frowned upon in the community. You’re basically saying that your site and the clicks it receives are more important than others’ privacy.

    “When you publish statements condemning people that commit suicide, you should expect people to retaliate. It’s entirely justified.”

    No, it’s not, and you sound incredibly childish saying so. Writing to him is justified. Opening a discussion and voicing your opinion is justified. Invading his privacy is not.

    I don’t mean to be an asshole, but if you really are serious (or want to avoid litigation in the future) then you will take this advice. I do appreciate the final outcome, and I think your heart is in the right place. This is a deeply personal subject for you and of course it makes sense that you would be angry. In these situations it can be hard to separate the emotional from the analytical, but that can make it difficult to sway other opinions; too much anger and blame on the page says that you want to be heard, you want others to agree and stroke your ego, but have little interest in actually changing anything. (I don’t know if that’s true in this case, but that’s how I read it.)

    Good luck with the writing. I hope this helps in some way. I give this advice based on my own experience and failures, so please don’t take any of this in a condescending way. You write well and you should keep going. After all, I wouldn’t have taken the time to write this if I didn’t think so. 🙂

    Cheers – michelle

  6. Jesus Christ harassment much? Dude said he was sorry and was working to educate himself like 5 fucking times. Fucking PC assfucks are just so relentless. There’s a difference between wanting to educate someone and fucking verbally abusing someone. When you advocate or a certain cause/community you need to learn how to work with ignorant people and educate them in a constructive manner. Pointing the finger and continuing to blame someone and who’s apologized and stated they want to do better doesn’t help. Telling them that no matter what they do it isn’t enough and making them feel like no matter what they say or do they can’t be forgiven doesn’t help either.

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