Monday, December 7, 2009

I Believe that North Dakota Does Not Have a Sense of Humor

UPDATE (12/8/09, 9:47 a.m.): I received a response from Ms. Otte-Coleman. She thinks it would likely be a waste of money to bring JJ here.

I quote, "We could spend a lot of time and money trying to convince people who just plain want to be heard that we offer a great lifestyle. In some ways we just call attention to the limited view point of one high school student – who likely has not traveled west of the Mississippi."

So, sorry JJ. I guess you aren't coming here on our dime! But don't let that stop you from visiting--again. (Sara must have missed the whole part about how you drove through ND on your way to Canada.) We'd love to take you for a drive down the Enchanted Highway (what do you mean, this gift shop looks like an alien experiment station? Pay no attention to the tentacles behind the curtain....).

Original Post
This week I received an email from a colleague of mine at the state level calling me (and everyone else on the list serve) to action.

It seems a malicious article had been penned and posted on the web claiming North Dakota did not exist. It went on to falsely assert that North Dakota was in reality the home of Area 51 and that all of its residents were aliens.

We as God-fearing, Flag-waving, State-loving North Dakotans were encouraged to set the record straight. After all, no one, and I mean NO ONE, makes fun of North Dakota and gets away with it! (See Dave Barry video clip at the bottom to see what we do to people who do.)

And who was this slanderous, hurtful maligning journalist that dared write such horrific untruths?

None other than a high school sophomore from Connecticut in his school paper opinion piece for the week entitled I Believe North Dakota Does Not Exist.

I would like to share some of the comments left by those whom I assume to be offended North Dakotans:

Well, me and many others I am friends with are actually from ND. We still live there and I don't think we are aliens........

Now, if you were an alien, why would you admit to it? It would totally blow your cover.

You're an idiot, North Dakota is way better then Connecticut.

First, I'm glad this person used the correct version of you're. And secondly, yes, ND is better than Connecticut. But I don't think calling the writer an idiot helps prove that.

I came to North Dakota when I was 15 from Yuma Arizona. I could say a lot of thing to you about your sensless ramblings but you obviously wouldn't have the mental capacity to understand what I would say. However there is help for your problem and it is right here in North Dakota! It is called the North Dakota State Hospital. It is located in Jamestown N.D. I am sure they have an extra spare rubber room and a nice straght jacket that will fit you. Linda Perleberg Jamestown College

I think this might (maybe) not be the message we want to send to people from out of state--If you think or speak differently from us, we put you in the mental hospital. Actually, this again seems proof positive we are, in fact, aliens.

This is completely inaccurate. Why would you post this publicly? It makes you look completely uneducated and you look like a huge jerk. Not impressed to say the least.

Yes, it is inaccurate. That's why it's funny. The only one who ends up looking uneducated is the one who thought the kid was serious.

Congrats ND! We are smaller than a football field according to JJ! Ok, this might have been funny if you talked about how cold it is or some of our weird traditions or something. But saying we have area 51?? That's not even funny. P.S. Ever heard of Phil Jackson, Roger Maris, Lute Olson?? Wonder where they're from?

They are from--SPACE! Didn't you ever see Men in Black? This is just more proof we actually are the home of Area 51--Phil Jackson is definitely an alien!

I am not a resident of ND, but I go to college there and I just got an email telling all of us to read this "'spoof story' that does not depict North Dakota in a positive light" and respond with all the wonderful things about ND. Your article was funny, and these posts are rather entertaining as well!! You sure got quite a few people's panties in a knot!! You need to give ND some credit though, after all they do have the World's Largest buffalo, holstein cow, sandhill crane, and many others I assume! Not to mention the Enchanted Highway... I even saw a tree one time. WIth all that, who wouldn't love North Dakota?

And yet another thing that proves we are an alien infested area--freaky giant cows, cranes, and especially the Enchanted highway.

ok listen here little one i have lived in North Dakota my whole life and I'm pretty sure that me and all of my friends are not aliens and this is not some Area 51 cover up like you think it is. And lets think about this really quick North Dakota has the Badlands and Medora..... and I'm pretty sure that everyone knows about both of those. And i agree with whoever posted the last comment lets bring this idiot to ND during the winter and see how he likes it.

This person I actually agree with--I think we should bring JJ to North Dakota. I think it's a great marketing idea that the Department of Tourism should seriously consider. How much would it cost to bring JJ and his/her family here for a vacation to show them what North Dakota really has to offer? A few thousand dollars? I bet they spend more than that on a magazine ad, and this would probably get some national media attention.

So, I plan to draft a note to Sara Otte-Coleman right now suggesting exactly that.

And in the meanwhile, take a deep breath, try to loosen up and enjoy these other instances of people making fun of North Dakota. Who knows, you might actually laugh!!

Michael Moore's Mockumentary--Why ND is the least visited state:

Dave Barry--Why you shouldn't make fun of ND:

Conan's theory as to why ND is in the black (Link)

And lastly, a great little farce about my hometown icon, Tommy Turtle:


  1. I can't believe that people took him so seriously. The kid was obviously kidding. I make fun of North Dakota all the time, and I go to school here. I'm sure if you surfed the web you could find all sorts of humorous articles about other states. Every state has something about it that you could make very entertaining. My responding so negatively, they actually gave North Dakota a poor representation.

  2. The whole thing is bizarre. I think we tend to overreact because we are overly anxious to show we are a state in our own right, especially after all the media due to National Geographic. I love ND, but geez--it's okay to poke fun from time to time. Jane Pettit above is right, ND gets made fun of a lot--but do we forget that other states also get made fun of? And by whom? Sometimes by us. I'm sure I've heard quite a bit about Minnesota, California, Florida, Texas, and other states.

    After reading his article, I felt indifferent, not a call to action. Maybe his state doesn't exist, either? Maybe it's all just one huge philosophical question. Shrodinger's cat!

  3. The Dave Barry link you provided was very funny. I understand North Dakotans who are sick of people not taking our state seriously as it happens all the time, and is usually based on false assumptions. However, I don't have a problem with it. I honestly don't care what others think of North Dakota. I love it and if you don't, that's fine. No state is perfect so there will always be ammunition to debate with.

  4. I am not from North Dakota. I am technically a Minnesotan, living right on the border between North Dakota and Minnesota. And yes...DON'T mess with North Dakotans. They generally take a lot of pride in their state.

    I personally find the ND/MN more charming and cozy than other areas of the world. There is a feeling of friendliness with people that you don't get anywhere else. Case one: I made a bet with a friend that I could get a Chicago person to wave at me in a five minute span. I lost horribly. All I got was strange looks and evil glares. In Minnesota/North Dakota, I can get 10 people a minute, depending how many people are walking down the street. And that is why we're awesome.

    The Dave Barry clip was great, by the way. Now I want to find the sewage lifting place they named after him in Grand Forks.

  5. I loved the Dave Barry link, too. I remember when he announced he was going there--it was quite the event.

  6. I'm sorry I missed this from when everyone was commenting on my article, there was a tremendous influx of angry emails and comments that I received—it was hard to keep track of all of them. This post is hilarious. I actually talked to my co-editors about scheduling a possible field trip to ND, unfortunately it is not a possibility. I thank you very much for trying to bring me to ND, that would have been great, we were planning a huge follow-up column where I discovered ND really did exist. Oh well.
    By the way, you caught us, Connecticut doesn't exist either. Oops. =P

    - JJ Clarke A&E Editor, Inklings News