Q Your muckraking and rabble-rousing about fuel prices is bad enough, but brandishing a weapon on the front page of Monday's Mercury News for a story on the worst and most improved roads was truly offensive. We're not in Texas!
A I posed for the picture holding a plastic toy gun, which was then replaced by a real one in Photoshop. But many agree with Kevin.
Q Have you lost your mind? In these days of robberies and murders, why in the world would you think it was OK to have a picture of yourself holding a very realistic handgun and on the front page of the paper no less? There are many more appropriate ways of getting your point across. It was in very poor taste and inexcusably bad judgment. How many kids saw you at their breakfast table Monday morning? C'mon, Mr. Richards. Think before you print.
A And "...
Q I can only imagine that the picture of you holding a gun somehow refers to road rage. I find that amazing — if that is the right interpretation — as it could lead people to believe that is acceptable behavior.
A No, no, no! My pistol-packing picture was a play on the popular TV show "24," starring Kiefer Sutherland as federal agent Jack Bauer. The story was about the 12 most gridlocked and 12 most improved roads in the region. Get it (12+12 = 24)? It was a parody of a promotional still from the TV show, and I never expected people to take it so seriously.
Q It's no wonder that liberals are, by definition, terrified of guns since people are usually scared of things they are ignorant of. Your irresponsible image on the front page of the Mercury News exemplifies that ignorance, showing you violating the first two rules of gun safety. One: Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction, and two: always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot. Thank you, Gary and the Mercury News, for setting such a bad example. I wish I could say I was surprised.
A The gun was pointing up, as in the picture we were parodying, in which Bauer's finger is of course on the trigger.
Q The picture of you holding a gun to attract attention to your article was in very bad taste. If you want to attract attention, use a wreck, an ambulance, or somebody in a hospital bed, but a gun! Please reconsider the next time.
A I doubt there will be a next time.
Q This picture showed an incredible lack of taste. It's obscene and insulting. Where was your judgment? . . . I understand the context of this picture, but I think you holding a handgun sends the wrong message in this day of almost daily road rage. I am saddened that saner heads did not prevail.
Dan Furtado, John Zsori and many more
A And "...
Q You do a lot of good work. But please explain a picture of you with a gun? Yes, I understand the "polices" headline. But there is too much violence in our world. You appear to be nonviolent. Am I wrong? Are you a closet cop? Did Mrs. Roadshow approve? Please help us understand.
A Mrs. Roadshow had nothing to do with this. She responds: "It surprised me, too. And he has an interesting point. There is too much gun violence." But then Miss Roadshow, my daughter Anne, called in. I told her of the angry reaction and she replied: "This is hilarious. You even look like Jack Bauer. Tell people to chill out; it was a spoof."
Q Gary, don't shoot! I'll slow down!
A Your comment and Anne's were the two bright spots in my day.
Contact Gary Richards at firstname.lastname@example.org or (408) 920-5335. The fax number is (408) 288-8060.