There’s nothing like a little profanity to get a rise out of people.

We knew we’d get some feedback after running “Screw you, America” by Clif Garboden, a top editor at The Boston Phoenix, in our Nov. 17 issue ( 2004-11-17/news.html). But it’s been fascinating to see who’s reacted and how.

A carpenter in a bar said he’d given copies to all his friends. A longtime resident of tony Governor’s Club said she’d done the same. Meanwhile, a lefty journalist asked how we could do something so stupid.

One friend said his father-in-law, a big Rush Limbaugh fan, read it and thought it was a hoot, while his mother-in-law, a more moderate R, was really upset. An understanding was reached, he said, when he explained to her that the same kind of deep contempt most Rs had for Bill Clinton is matched by a lot of Ds when it comes to his successor.

Garboden’s essay, as the title implies, is an unapologetic and, yes, rather profane, indictment of those working class “red staters” who went with the president on Election Day even though his policies are fostering a growing oligarchy that sees them as pawns to higher profits.

We ran it because it was funny, well written (including some of the best use of profanity we’ve seen in a long time) and captured so well the visceral reaction many people had to the results of Nov. 2. The words were strong, but don’t look to us for an apology.

If we disagree with anything Garboden said, it’s the notion that there are red states and blue states. The fact is, there are fire-breathing radicals right here in North Carolina and some of the fattest fat cats around cruising Route 128 around Boston. This is a divided country, but it’s not neatly carved into red state/blue states. If you need a picture, go to the amazing maps created at the University of Michigan that weight the vote by population and show that we’re mostly a nation of purple (

The letters we’ve gotten and the comments many of us recently received across the holiday table underline the fact that inside, many Americans are deeply conflicted about our place in the world, our responsibility to each other, the role of government in our lives and how we choose our leaders. Garboden’s piece captured one side of that.

We didn’t spend much of the last year outlining why we believe the Bush administration has been one of the worst in this country’s history just to walk away on Nov. 3 and start running holiday shopping stories.