The Argument
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Rick Archer January, 2002

In May 2001, I got into a verbal email battle with a woman named Diane Teichman. 

As Ms. Teichman wrote to be deleted from the SSQQ Email List, she also objected strongly to a joke I published in the June Newsletter. Humor is very subjective so I didn't mind her point of view. However I deeply resented the personal nature of her response. 

I didn't know who she was (and still don't), but I have to admit when I re-read what she said a year later, I got hot under the collar all over again

The ensuing Cat Fight between Ms. Teichman and myself struck a nerve. I wasn't the only one who had a strong reaction - after I published the argument in the July 2001 Newsletter, I had over 30 "Letter to the Editor" responses. I have listed those below as well.
Here is the quote from Comedian Elayne Boosler that started our conflagration: 

"We have women in the military, but they don't put us in the front lines. They don't know if we can fight, if we can kill. I think we can. All the general has to do is walk over to the women and say, 'You see the enemy over there? They say you look FAT in those uniforms! Now kill them.'

I have always laughed whenever I read this quote, but as you will see Ms Teichman saw it in a different way


1A. Wed 05/30/2001 8:53 AM

Rick; Please remove me from your email and newsletter list.
By the way, women have the proven quality of decision making skills and the discipline to serve in the military, we aren't solely motivated by envy. Many women gave their lives serving for your freedom and rights. Have you made such a contribution? 
Diane Teichman

1B. Wed 05/30/2001 9:21 AM

I will gladly remove you from the list. Too bad you will not get to see your response listed in the next Newsletter.
Rick Archer


2A. Wed 05/30/2001 9:45 AM

Thanks for taking me off the list. My response was to help you understand the contributions women have made in military service and to know that they extend beyond jokes. Don't give out my email address if you do print my response. As a professional writer, I see my words in print all the time. 
Diane Teichman

2B. Wed 05/30/2001 10:23 AM

Ms Teichman, quite frankly I think you clearly misunderstood that it was a JOKE. 

I resent having you lecture me about the bravery and intelligence of women as if I was some half-baked idiot. You seem to think you can extrapolate my personal views from a silly joke. I think you are using some exceptionally fuzzy logic. 

I wouldn't dream of listing your email address. 
Rick Archer


3A. Wed 05/30/2001 11:04 AM

The price of your response is lost business and a bad reputation. Maybe you can joke about that. Please don't respond further.
Diane Teichman

3B. Wed 05/30/2001 11:06 AM

I couldn't care less if you tell me not to respond. Since you started it, show some of the bravery you so easily banter about and finish the conversation. 

It appears you are guilty of some faulty logic and are unwilling to apologize for it.

You talk about the courage of women, but then you want to run and hide the moment I have the nerve to disagree with some of what you are saying. This makes it very difficult for me to respect your point of view since you don't have the guts to defend your position. 

And your threats about my bad reputation and lost business are pathetic. If anyone has a problem with my standing up for myself, then tough.

For the record, I have no problem with women holding positions in the military. I have no problem with women fighting for their country. And I have no problem acknowledging that many women are exceptionally brave and intelligent.

I just have a problem with your logic.

It was a JOKE. And I thought it was funny. 

If you didn't think it was funny, I acknowledge your right to say so. Just don't go putting words in my mouth.

Rick Archer


4A. Wed 05/30/2001 11:28 AM

Your anger is a waste of time. You can either learn from this or stay angry. 

I will give this one last message and then get back to running my company. Here is the background to why your joke was offensive.

Joking about a person's potential and ability has historically caused such an opportunity to be denied to them. If dance studios were joked about in the same vein you would have had as hard a time as women have had receiving deserved respect and you would understand why even joking can be damaging. Other examples are jokes about, race, religion and sexual preference leading to lynching. If you consider this to be too extreme then try talking to women who served in the military back when jokes like yours were never disputed. You enjoy a lot of freedom and protection in your workplace, I know I've been there. You showed disrespect in your joke. It's as simple as that. The lost business and bad reputation was not a threat...I will not give you my business.

This is my last message to you. Please be advised that I have requested that you not contact me any further and that I am retaining a copy if further action is required.

Diane Teichman

4B  (I did not respond further. End of argument)

Reader's Responses to the Diane Teichman - Rick Archer Cat Fight

1. Ms. Teichman does have a point, but I think she overreacted a bit. I think that probably those jokes were going around at a time when women were being discriminated against in the military. Women have had to prove themselves much more than men in the military during training. She's obviously had a bad experience with discrimination . . . but then, if we can't laugh at ourselves, life is far to dull . . . because we are ALL extremely funny!!
Personally, I love your newsletter . . . please don't take me off your mailing list.

2. Rick,
Did you REALLY give her the last word?

MY ANSWER - Can you believe that?  Yes, I did.
Rick Archer

3. Rick: Between you and me, I thought the joke was funny. Elayne Boosler is great. I understand where Diane T. is coming from, though, because women are still limited by society. Here is an example: When working on a flood clean-up team, my friend (you know Joan Korpal) took it upon herself to sweep out the dust left by the sheetrock and so forth. The men enjoyed knocking out sheetrock. Our male friend commented to her that if she kept that up, she would make someone a good wife!  Like women are born to be maids!  Joan is a civil engineer, with many years experience at Shell. It's not fair to be stereotyped like that, for either sex. I guess it's a fine line between humor and insult sometimes.

Hope you like this one: "I have learned from my mistakes, and can repeat them exactly."--Dudley Moore

4. Hey, Rick, I think this "Diane Teichman" has a real problem!! Back in the mid-70's, I was a baseball umpire in a "TOTALLY" dominant man's world and had to endure the baseball "language" that occurs on (and off) the field. I was never offended by it, let alone a silly joke of some sort. Maybe in Ms. Teichman's next life, she'll be a little more "loose" (??)

5. I feel sorry for Ms Teichman. She so obviously missed the point. It was a joke and nothing more. I'm a woman and I found it hilarious. She must have a lot of time on her hands if she is able to sit around and analyze jokes. I personally would never consider giving someone as humorless as Ms Teichman my business and the loss of her business is actually a boon to you. To insinuate that she might sue if you contacted her again is downright stupid. She kept contacting you. This sounds to me like a case of "if I can't win, I'm taking my marbles and going home". 

Good riddance!!!! Rick, your supporters love the jokes, keepum coming!

6. Rick - Usually you are a fairly bright guy and have good social sense. But I'd like to pass on a bit of advice that I've always found helpful. It was given by one of the SSQQ instructors (I forget which one). He said that when you're dancing with a lady and a move doesn't go right, the man should always say that he was the one who messed up. It's a hard thing to do, and I'm not always able to swallow my pride and do it, but when I have, I've always been glad I did. Ms. Teichman may have misread your lead, but I think you should have sucked it up and apologized instead of getting into a pretty silly argument. The joke is only mildly funny and is a bit of a put down to women so I can understand why some people might be offended by it. I think it would be better just to say "I'm sorry I offended you".

Everyone has a right to their point of view, T, and I respect yours. However, Ms. Teichman and I were not dancing nor did I ask for her initial response which was extremely hostile. 

If you remember, first she asked me to delete her from the Newsletter list and then got very personal in her criticism of the joke : "By the way, women have the proven quality of decision making skills and the discipline to serve in the military, we aren't solely motivated by envy. Many women gave their lives serving for your freedom and rights. Have you made such a contribution?" I did not appreciate her inappropriate inference by asking if I had made such a contribution.

She has a right to her point of view, but so do you and so do I. 

I will be happy to include your point since I agree it was indeed a nasty exchange and perhaps I should have had a thicker skin. If she had simply complained about the joke, I would have been more civil. There was no need to get personal.
Rick Archer

Rick - You're very right that Ms Teichman started out with both guns blazing and did not need to get so personal. In similar situations I've also blasted back with personal comments when I feel I've been unfairly attacked. It would have been much more appropriate for her to say that she was offended by the joke and not speculate about your patriotism. Your joke obviously struck a nerve with her. Her response obviously struck a nerve with you. And the whole thing must have struck a nerve with me too for some reason since I bothered to get in the middle of this thing. I think it's because I work a lot with veterans and frequently get asked whether I made the kind of contribution they did. I always feel that trying to help them out is a contribution, and resent the anger that I feel is behind the question.

8. Dear Rick,
I am astonished that Diane took offense at the "fat" joke you printed. Did she not notice that it was written BY A WOMAN???!!! Elaine Boosler is one of my favorite comics. She pokes fun at all our foibles, male and female. I thought the joke was very funny. I thought it was funny the first time I saw her do it on TV, and still laugh every time someone sends it to me in an e-mail. I can picture my sister-in-law, who is an emergency medicine physician in the US Air Force. That joke is right up her alley. 

9. Hi, Rick . . . I laughed, too! 

10. I just think that you are bored, since you can't fight with Texas A & M anymore,,,,you have to pick on Diane Teichman.....I loved it!!!!! Fight More! :)

11. Greetings, Rick!  I just finished reading the current newsletter and I have to wipe the tears from my face, I'm laughing so hard!

I am amazed with the morons you deal with on a daily basis. I've been in the restaurant business in Houston for 15 years and I thought I had it bad, but your experiences take the cake. Your missives about the people who come into your studio are at once hilarious and painful to read. They remind me a lot of my experiences with the masses and how peculiar many people are.

I have taken many classes at SSQQ and never been disappointed. I've gotten to be a pretty good dancer, but there is a good entertainment value in some of the people who are in the classes as well. You can really tell why some of them are there--and it's not for learning the two-step. 

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know I sympathize with you a great deal. You're a decent guy with a quality product and I think it sucks about some of the crap you have to put up with. Keep up the good work and don't let the turkeys drag you down!

12. Teichman/Archer volleys very good, thanks for including it. Women still a bit sensitive about fat? If we're all equal opportunity, why is it only the male species is required by law to register for the draft? 
Cordially, DC

13. I just finished reading the banter about the JOKE in the June, or May, newsletter. As a woman I am appalled that a woman, Diane, would hold you responsible for something another woman, Elaine Boosler, said. I applaud the fact that you stood up for yourself and that you didn't let that misguided and illogical person get away with what she said to you. You have the right to think a JOKE is funny, I thought it was funny and I am not offended in anyway. I think her feminism is getting in the way of her good judgment and your studio is better off without her.
Thanks for the news,

14. Hi Rick! I am recovering now and we hope to take advanced swing in September. I thought your military joke was funny. That woman wasted a lot of time getting her panties into a bunch!
Continue on through the fog of insanity! Dr. LK

15. Hi Rick!  I agree with the fact it was a joke, and I think she overreacted. But I have to admit that I think publishing the entire e-mail exchange in the newsletter was more than a little tacky-I mean, really-who cares?
Best, K

MY ANSWER: One part of me agrees with you to a point, especially if it was "personal". 

However this is a Newsletter. She was replying with a very distinct point of view to the editor of the Newsletter regarding something she disagreed with in our previous issue. 

Another point of view would be that I did her a favor by giving her every chance to first state her opinion, then defend it at length. 

Furthermore, K, in my first reply I specifically stated I intended to publish her response. She had every chance to ask that I not print it nor did my statement in any way stop her from saying more. 

I might add that of all the massive amounts of articles and information, 90% of all responses are to her letters. Our correspondence clearly hit a nerve with many people.
Rick Archer 

16. Rick, I think you are right and I think this lady needs to relax and dance, it is freedom of speech and if she does not want to read the joke, then she has that right, I thought is was funny. I alas think you have a great website and write some very interesting stories and articles, besides having the best dance studio for FUN in Houston or probably the country.

17. Rick, I believe you owe Diane Teichman an apology. I do not get your newsletter but friends of mine who do send me your correspondence with her and they were appalled at your behavior. They will not be returning to your studio. Be a man and do the right thing.

MY RESPONSE: First tell me what I am supposed to apolgize for. 

18. Rick, This is DW, ski group member, and I thought the joke was funny. And it seemed you did touch a nerve and I thought the whole episode was funny. I think we are all getting too sensitive, politically correct, too diversified, etc., etc. May be this country and citizens need to begin to focus on what we all have in common and not what is different about us all. Yes, men and women are different. However, in the end, we all want the same thing, security, acceptance, happiness. And I agree when you told her that she started the exchange and when it got too hot she wanted to retreat. Again, as I said in the beginning, we are all getting way to sensitive. Thanks, DW

19. Rick, I go on record here to support your great dance school, and the humor you add to life. I look forward each month to the newsletter. I do not know Diane, but if her threat of loss business is real (in other words you will not get her money), then I will gladly pay for a few months for a missing "un-missed student". I have head so many stories of people that have made it through divorce and other heartaches of life only because they found out about SSQQ. I have met many friends. Blackmail shall not dictate a man's thoughts. (Nor a woman's when she does not hide behind her gender). A joke is a joke not an endorsement or guidepost for life. Reprint is fine with me. Let me know if the threat has an effect, I will kick in!  G

20. Yeah, Rick! Your only fault seems to be the fact that you refuse to recognize that SOME people have NO sense of humor. SL
P.S. Would be willing to be that Ms. Teichman is 10+ pounds overweight!

21. Rick. I haven't been to class lately, but I do know, never to make a joke about a woman's weight, or any reference thereof.

Regarding the Women-in-the-Military dialogue, as far as I'm concerned, if women want equal suffrage, let 'em suffer equally. As my Dad used to say, "A person without a sense of humor ought not to be a boss."  B

22. Rick, dear fabulous instructor:
I am just about as female as a female can be and have been this way for over 70 years. I've been skinny and I've been fat. I've found, much to my delight, that dancing in your studio helps me in my war against fat.

The point of all of this is I, most definitely, found your "fat joke" vastly amusing, but then I have no known neurosis. I should add, however, for the sake of veracity, as a widow of a military guy, I, absolutely, unequivocally, hated the very thought of any female routinely fighting in the trenches with my spouse. Amazons may be admirable folks but I didn't want them rubbing up against my man. He was so old-fashioned-he, probably, would have lost his life attempting to protect her if he didn't succumb to her voluptuous charms.

It was only a short time ago that some navy ship was nicknamed "Pregnancy Boat" or some such thing because so many of the females on it ended up in "that boat."

Alas! Some of their partners were married men. Another reason, but of course, to avoid millions of problems by bringing back the wonderful WAVES, or WACS or LADY MARINES!  (Now all of these were filled with females truly to be admired. They really helped save our nation. If anyone doesn't know that, he/she should review World War II history.)

Unfortunately some of these modern "I wish I could kiss my elbow" females are going to fool around and make the rest of us EQUAL with you males....Darn their hides! Here I've been superior all of my life and I'm to be dragged down so low!

And yes, indeed, I'll continue to pay my money for lessons at the studio of a man with a delightful and normal sense of humor! As for those who eschew humor, they should, poor sad creatures that they are-as the very young say, "Get a life!" I'd add to that-or at least see a psychiatrist!
And as for you, seems like you should know by now that the only people one can publicly make fun of-are rednecks!!!!! (Do read that with a large quantity of embedded facetiousness.)

MY ANSWER:  As always, an interesting reply from you.

I enjoy your point of view on women in the military. To be honest, you have given the thought a heck of a lot more thought than I have. I had forgotten about the "Pregnancy Boat". Wasn't this particular boat one that served in the Gulf War?

There are many points to be made pro and con for women serving in the military. Honestly, I think whatever women as a large group wish to do, they should have the right to do it.
I don't... as a man... think I have the right to say, "You are a girl. I forbid you to serve in the military."
If women want to fight for their country, let them.

However what I resented about Diane Teichman's response was that she decided to lecture me on my personal views based on a silly joke. As you know, when I wish to make a point, I go right ahead and make it. In the case of the joke, I was not making a statement; I was sharing a joke.

If I were to censure every joke for political correctness, we would - as you so readily point out - be limited strictly to picking on rednecks since they alone seem to have no current political voice.

23. Regarding Diane Teichman, I can't help but recall the phrase,
"Folks who have no sense of humor are at the mercy of those of us who do."

24. Rick! Hi, I'm JD, alumnus. Nice to finally e-meet you. Thank you for the compliment via my beau D regarding my Word of the Day. I was enjoying the panache with which you handled Ms. Diane "Poster-Child-for-Defensive-Females" Teichman, professional writer and business owner (and don't you forget it), and decided that the following word was apropos. I love the newsletter. Keep it up! - J

25. Regarding the email exchange with Diane Teichman, I am in full support of you and your stand. It appears that Ms. Teichman either failed to notice or ignored the fact that it was a FEMALE comic, Elayne Boosler, who originally made the joke. So if there was anyone who was showing disrespect to women in the military and who Ms. Teichman should be upset at, it is Ms. Boosler and Ms. Teichman should direct her disgust in that direction. I would guess that Ms. Teichman has never heard Elayne Boosler, otherwise, she would have known to simply laugh it off. Ms. Boosler's stock-in-trade and the staple of her performances are jokes which poke fun at the things women obsess over. I certainly hope that Ms. Teichman does not laugh at male-bashing jokes because if she does, then she is a complete hypocrite. Finally, Rick, while there have been times over the seven years that I have been part of the SSQQ community that I did not agree with you, I still fully support what you are doing. Don't let people like Ms. Teichman get you down, not that I think they will. Thanks for running the studio for us. 

26. Howdy, Near the start of your newsletter you apparently had a "conversation" with someone named Diane Teichman. Are you sure it was really her? I mean, the response from that woman sounded like my sister. (Yes, my sister needs to get real as well.) 

MY ANSWER: Re the talk with Ms Teichman, I wouldn't make something that goofy up!! Your sister is that serious too??

Yes, my sister is that serious, mean, nasty, etc. 
Anyway, concerning the lawsuit abuse, my only comment is that one thing that could be done to at least start the prevention of such things is that the person(s) being sued should be allowed to counter-sue for the same amount. I think that only those people who truly had a chance to win would start legal proceedings. If you put people in a position where they could lose just as much as they could potentially gain, many would seriously re-think their actions. 

27. Thanks! BTW, I thought the Elayne Boosler joke was funny; I did not see it as an insult against women's capabilities.

28. Rick: Just wanted to comment on your exchange with Diane T. in the newsletter: re women in the military. My guess here is that there is more going on with her than feeling that women get the short end of the stick. I recall being in this "angry" place and much of it had to be with how I felt about myself. 

But such anger isn't to be remonstrated: such anger has encouraged much of the women's movement and gotten us to the place we are now where without it we would still be in the "dark ages." It just needs to be more appropriately directed, i.e., not at you.

MY ANSWER: It has been about six weeks since I had my argument with Ms Teichman. The argument generated A LOT of responses, B! Some have been favorable to my position, others have defended Ms. Teichman.

To everyone's surprise, I do not even know who Diane Teichman is. I haven't a clue. And interestingly, I haven't heard back from her either. I would have assumed she peeked at the web site, but who knows?

I just didn't appreciate being attacked so personally... "Many women gave their lives serving for your freedom and rights. Have you made such a contribution?"

As far as her motives, many people have commented their conjectures, but few are as insightful as yours. I would be willing to guess I hit a nerve of some sort.

She is welcome to be angry, but not at my expense. It was simply a joke and it made me laugh when I first read it.

As far as the women's movement is concerned, I am in favor of assisting women to do whatever it is they want to do in pursuit of equal treatment. I can't imagine how and why men think they are more entitled to something than women are.

If women wish to take the risk of dying to protect their country, I will support them.

That is so funny that you don't even know who she is?!!  And how inappropriate for her to make such a comment to you when she doesn't even know you. SSQQ Newsletters are probably not a venue for asserting women's rights, not that it's a bad place but gosh.....I wonder if she lets men lead when she dances?!  And if not, what's she doing there? 
Giggle, giggle!

Take care, Rick. See ya later.
Thanks & regards, BB

30. What is wrong with you? C & I just finished reading your bout with Diane Teichman and I can't believe you let her get in the last word! What is wrong with you? Is this your Newsletter or what????? 

MY RESPONSE: You are indeed correct. It is so unlike me to not get in the last word. However I was afraid the exchange was getting vicious, so I decided to back off. 

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