Well, this is an odd one: Someone’s been sending homophobic postcards to Seattle businesses, calling for an end to queer people in Seattle. And that's not even the weirdest detail: The sender claims to be Mindy Jennings, the wife of Jeopardy! star Ken Jennings. (The Jennings family says they have no connection to the cards, and no idea who’s sending them or why.)
So far, the cards have shown up at Cupcake Royale, Biscuit Bitch, and Phoenix Comics—and those are just the ones we’ve heard about. It’s possible more have gone out and wound up in the trash, where they belong.
The content of the postcards is a tedious anti-queer rant—the usual homophobic and transphobic waste of time we’ve all heard a million times. You know the sort: It’s the garbage that you might expect to get from that one uncle you don’t want to see at Thanksgiving, or from KOMO’s Facebook comments.
I’m not including the text of the card here because a) There’s nothing particularly special about it; b) It’s already easy to find photos with a simple search if you’re truly curious; and c) Whoever’s sending it almost certainly is doing it for attention, and I’m not here to provide free ad space to whoever mails the worst postcard.
For their part, the Jennings family seems to be as befuddled as the businesses receiving them.
“We’ve been getting these occasionally for years,” Ken tweeted. “No idea what the deal is.”
In a longer statement to The Stranger, he added that they’ve been getting the cards for at least two years, “always full of bizarre anti-gay hate speech.”
He has no idea who the sender is, he says: “I've always found the cards to be confusing and the homophobia to be gross and I'm sorry that the harassment has now apparently been broadened to new recipients.”
(Ken hasn’t often publicly addressed issues around homosexuality, but he did speak out against some anti-gay policies of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when he appeared on Savage Love in 2015.)
Other recipients responded with dismay and annoyance.
“This was really out of the blue,” wrote the employee of one local business, asking to remain anonymous. “Our business has never reached out to [the Jennings family] or dealt with them. I have no idea why they would claim to be this person.”
“I'd like to squash its distribution to the masses,” said Kimmie Spice, president of Biscuit Bitch, who says she reported it to the USPS as hate mail. “My feeling is that it was sent in hopes that it would end up in the media and get more recognition. I'd prefer that it stops in my garbage can.”
Nick Nazar of Phoenix Comics (who helps pick out books for my weekly comic book reviews; hi Nick) has no idea why they were targeted. He hopes that at least some good can come out of the mailing, if neighbors mobilize to support businesses that receive hate mail.
It’s hard to know exactly what’s behind the mailing, other than that it’s the work of a creep with an unhealthy fixation. It’s not like printing cards and buying stamps is THAT expensive, but still, it’s not free — someone cares at least enough about this strange campaign to spend a few bucks bothering people for no clear reason. The fact that it’s been targeting one particular family for years suggests that it’s not just someone trying to stir up trouble with Seattle’s local small business community. Since the purpose of the cards is unclear, aside from just grabbing attention, it’s difficult to know how to respond.
That employee who asked to be anonymous does have one recommendation, though: “Definitely not to ignore it,” they wrote. “If I've learned anything from the AIDS crisis and the Pulse nightclub shooting tragedies, to be aware is to be safe.”