Dave Simpson: You Take Your Lumps And Move On

Columnist Dave Simpson writes: "moved on to a spirited debate about some issue. A reporter for another paper got the names mixed up, and her story had the deceased lawmaker participating enthusiastically in the debate."

Dave Simpson

February 21, 20224 min read

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“Confession is good for the soul,” a Scottish proverb tells us.

(Frankly, I think staring into a campfire is even better for the soul, and it has the added benefit of not requiring you to ‘fess up about something. I recommend it highly, preferably way up in the mountains, with the Milky Way looking down from above.)

Allow me to correct a couple boneheaded misspellings, and throw in some recent reader comments.

My crusty old neighbor Tom (boy, is he crusty), who has a cabin down the road, gave me the dickens last month for a column I wrote about thieves in Los Angeles breaking into shipping containers aboard Union Pacific Railroad trains.

Due to a crazy prosecutor out there, the thieves get arrested, released without posting bond, and often make their way right back to the rail yard for more looting, sometimes in the same day. Sounds like anarchy to me.

I erred when referring to the famous Wyoming lawman mentioned in the movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” misspelling Joe LeFors’ name. I was making the point that even a famous lawman can’t deter crime if the prosecutor lets people go willy-nilly.

I should have checked the spelling of  LeFors’ name. Neighbor Tom takes a particular  interest in railroads and the law, and he said I need to have a stern word with my proof reader. (My proof reader is my wife of 37 years. Not gonna happen.)

So anyway, you’d expect better from a former staff writer for the Laramie Boomerang (me) regarding a famous Wyoming lawman, and I apologize. (I learned that LeFors was also involved in apprehending and convicting Tom Horn – perhaps with the aid of skulduggery – over here in Laramie County.)

Likewise, in another column that appeared in January, I quoted the always-engaging U.S. Senator John Kennedy, who said President Joe Biden “runs a taut shipwreck.” Funny.  Except I spelled it “taught,” and a sharp-eyed reader – perhaps a former teacher – busted me. It’s “taut,” not “taught.”

My fellow columnist Bill Sniffin once saved me from saying I “shuttered” to think something, when what I meant was “shuddered.” Sometimes you make mistakes like that when you’re in a hurry. We caught that one just in time. I shudder to think how embarrassing it would have been had it gotten through.

A peeved reader told me to “lighten up on Liz Cheney, for Pete’s sake!” I replied that I’d pretty much said all I had to say about our lone House member. But she has referred to some of her constituents as “crazy,” and it’s getting harder and harder to not take it personally.

The reader suggested that I have a vendetta against Liz (no, I voted for her, three times), who I think has a vendetta against former President Trump, who we all know has a vendetta against Liz. (All God’s children got vendettas these days.)

That said, and at the risk of mentioning Liz Cheney again, I heard from a salt-of-the-earth, lifelong Wyoming resident recently, who vows to never vote for Liz again, and took the time to send her a terse note telling her so.


One year at the legislature, they started the session with a tribute to a lawmaker who had recently died. Then they moved on to a spirited debate about some issue. A reporter for another paper got the names mixed up, and her story had the deceased lawmaker participating enthusiastically in the debate. The next day a legislator mentioned it, laughing, but I said, “I’m not laughing. There but for the grace of God go I.”

And I did.

Not familiar with the term “rump group,” I wrote the term “runt group” in a story, to the glee of the assembled lawmakers. The Chief Justice of the Wyoming Supreme Court even worked my mistake into his address to the legislature, and it got a good laugh. “Rump group” has been burned into my gray matter ever since, like a fresh brand on the side of a cow.

Hey, mistakes happen. You fix them and move on.

And as we used to say in the business:

I regret being caught in these errors.

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Dave Simpson

Political, Wyoming Life Columnist

Dave has written a weekly column about a wide variety of topics for 39 years, winning top columnist awards in Wyoming, Colorado, Illinois and Nebraska.