From time to time, it behooves me to start off a column with a reader letter. There are lots of practical reasons to do this. Perhaps because a reader has expressed a sentiment I share, and I can’t express it any better, or perhaps for me to express it at all would simply be plagiarism. Sometimes, it’s a reader question, and that tends to be a good way to set up a did-you-know column. Other times, though, when someone writes something that truly infuriates me, all I want to do is attack that statement.

In this case, it’s the latter. Someone defended the actions of Ken Shamrock. writes:

“First, great columns. You continuously bash Shamrock cause of how he brushed off a kid, a kid. Do you know what probably runs through his mind every time he sees a child. This is a man who was living out of cars and on the street when he was only 10 years old, do you know the painful memories he may have from being exposed to a life on the street at such a young age. I can totally respect you not liking Shamrock for his wrestling ability, character and any other facets of him that have to deal with wrestling. Though to attack him because of how he brushes off a kid, I can’t respect. Hell, he may of been burned out from being on the road for so long, or just can’t deal with kids, including many people who spawn them. So in closing I can’t understand you bashing him because of this occurrence, but if it has to do with his wrestling ability or lack there of I totally can understand and respect your views even if I don’t agree with them. Keep up the great work.”

The event, for those of you who do not recall, took place last summer, when the WWF came to Montreal and was putting on some promotional appearances the day of the show. The largest of these promotional events was a “CFCF-12 day in the park,” in which about twelve wrestlers made appearances at a park, greeted the fans and signed autographs, and then a team comprised of the WWF took on the CFCF-12 Hot Dogs in a softball game.

I didn’t stay for the game, but I did chat with some of the wrestlers for SLAM! When I arrived at the tent, eight WWF wrestlers were present, seated, signing autographs, and chatting with the fans, about five hundred of whom showed up for the event. The New Age Outlaws, the Canadian contingent, which consisted of Owen Hart (R.I.P.), Edge, and Val Venis, as well as Too Cold Scorpio, Pierre Ouellette, and Ken Shamrock.

The New Age Outlaws were just leaving, and were cutting some TV promos, so I left them alone. I instead had words with Hart, Edge, Venis, Scorpio, and Ouellette, in that order.

I was about to approach Ken Shamrock, who was the last on my list for the day, but I waited for him to finish talking to an elderly gentleman and a small boy who I assume was his grandson. I arrived just in time to catch the end of their conversation, just in time to hear the little kid, apparently an aspiring wrestler himself, ask Shamrock where he trains. Shamrock, the consumate performer that he is, rudely told the kid, without even making eye contact, that he “doesn’t work out” and then got up to leave.

Ken Shamrock doesn’t work out. Is that a fact? It would be a more believable lie if not for the fact that he looks like about 230 pounds of muscular steel. Oh, and except for the fact that he was wearing an old, obviously used shirt that said “GOLD’S GYM” on it. Fine, maybe he just acquired the shirt elsewhere and didn’t train at Gold’s Gym, but you, the reader, and I both know that Ken Shamrock works out. If he doesn’t, then we should dissect him, because he’s one heck of a scientific oddity. If he does, we should still dissect him, because he’s a jerk.

Now, getting back to what AOL’s Mr. Modpayne had to say about Ken Shamrock, let me first say that I don’t mean to offend Mr. Modpayne with my comments. This isn’t a personal attack, I simply feel very, very strongly about what you wrote. Very strongly that you’re very, very wrong.

You see, there are two flaws, in my opinion with your line of reasoning. You state, as far as I can see, about three things.

Firstly, that if I were to dislike (“bash”) Ken Shamrock because of a lack of wrestling skills, that would be okay, but to do it for personal reasons, for how I saw him behave, is not.

Secondly, that Ken Shamrock’s actions are justified because of a difficult youth.

Finally, that Ken Shamrock should be given some amount of leeway because of his stardom and busy schedule, simply because he may be “burned out.”

I have two problems with your first statement. First, I think you have it backwards. The general rule, I think, is that one should not root for, or cheer for, a given wrestler if one suspects he lacks wrestling ability. It is exactly when one has a personal dislike for a wrestler that he should “bash” him, not the other way around.

I would never say “I hate Al Snow, his punches don’t look real,” mostly because his punches do look real, but also partly because the real-lookingness of his punches really has no bearings on my personal feelings toward Mr. Snow. However, if he were to kill squirrels for fun in his basement and I were to find out about this, it is exactly then that I would express a personal dislike of some kind. To do the opposite seems absurd to me.

But that isn’t my only problem with your first statement. I also believe that no one person can tell any one other person who they can like or dislike and for what reasons. If I really wanted to dislike Ken Shamrock because he’s a stiff wrestler, or because he’s mean to kids, then that’s up to me. I think we can suggest things to each other as human beings, but ultimately, we all have a right to our own opinions, even me, and even you.

I have a single problem with the second statement. Two wrongs don’t make a right. It doesn’t get any simpler than this. Just because Shamrock himself had a difficult childhood gives him no right to treat children who have done nothing wrong with disdain. These people are his fans, for him to go off on them like that is disgusting. This leads me to my third point, and the one about which I feel most strongly.

People in the spotlight do not deserve to be given some kind of break, and they do not deserve to be allowed to be mean to small children. Period. No exceptions. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that the paparazzi should be following around WWF superstars and invading their private lives or anything like that. I don’t believe that by wrestling for Vince McMahon, you’ve sold you life away to the public eye.

But I do believe that the same standards of courtesy we all (or we most) abide by should still absolutely apply to the rich and famous, even if they are the world’s most dangerous men.

I’m willing to bet that that kid, and perhaps grandpa too, had a ticket to that night’s festivities at the Molson Center. They were likely going to go there later that night and cheer on Ken Shamrock in his match against whomever it was he fought. The money they paid for those tickets with is the very same money that lines Ken Shamrock’s pockets.

That little boy, or whoever paid for his ticket, is one infinitesimally small portion of Ken Shamrock’s employer, the public. And for him to behave like that in public, and especially to the more vulnerable of us, the youth, is disgusting. I won’t stand for it. I didn’t stand for it then – I refused to speak with him – and I won’t now. That kind of thing isn’t some special rule that applies to wrestlers so we can make their lives harder, it’s common decency!

It’s not okay to tell off small children.

It’s not any more okay to do so when one’s own childhood was difficult. That’s the kind of logic that says that men who were beating by loved ones as a child may beat loved ones as an adult. It’s bull. And to say that every single child out there reminds him of his poor childhood is ridiculous. We’re headed towards a society where no one takes any responsibility for oneself, where all the bad things we do can be blamed on our past. It’s garbage. Maybe a person can be afraid of sharks or something, and act irrationally in salt water, but to suggest that whenever there’s a child around, Ken Shamrock is allowed to be rude — that’s social insanity.

Finally, it’s not okay to tell off small children just because one has a lot of money, or because one is the world’s most dangerous man, or because one spends a lot of time on the road, or in a ring, or on a stage, or whatever. People remain responsible for their own behavior, even after they become big stars. No exceptions.

To allow someone like Ken Shamrock to behave as he did, in such a totally uncalled for manner, is deplorable and intolerable. There’s just nothing else to say about this.

Except that Ken Shamrock is also a horrible wrestler with absolutely no charisma and a tired gimmick.

Here’s the rest of the mailbag.

Lawrence Zwer, writes:
“A couple of years ago when the WWF made their way to Vancouver, a friend of mine ran into Shamrock at the Roxy, a bar that among other things is a favourite hangout of professional sports stars and the women who might wish to “entertain” them. Anyway, my friend was drinking with Shamrock when two “troll ugly” (as my friend put it) women walked up and tried their moves on Kenny. Kenny looks at the two of them, says “show me your [word replaced by Eric with:] ‘puppies'”, which they do. He laughs and then walks away from them. Nice guy, that Kenny.”

‘Nuff said.

Kevin Proffitt, writes:
“Eric: Cut down the verbiage. You’ve got some good things to say but they get lost in the overblown explanations, disclaimers, introductions, etc. Don’t try to defend yourself so much – just say it and let the chips fall.”

This email was representative of many, many emails with the exact same message I received this week. It was simply the most concise version.

Kevin, and everyone else who said it, you’re right. No matter what I write, there’s always going to be some element of people I disturb or anger, no matter how I state it, or what I state. I may as well say what I feel so that I’m not one of the people disturbed at myself.

This good enough for you?

Have a great week everyone. Thanks for reading, thanks especially for writing, have a great week, see you in seven.