Molly Ivins, Journalism Philosopher

Molly Ivins, Journalism Philosopher

When I was but a wee lass in New Jersey, earning ice cream money by working at a discount bookshop at Liberty Village Outlets in Flemington, a Texan fella came in with a big hat and cowboy boots. He and his wife were on vacation in NYC and for some reason had decided to come out to the sticks of rural NJ to get their discount shopping on. Anyway, we got into a nice chat and they told me they were from Odessa or somesuch place.

“Oh, look!” I said excitedly. “We’ve got a whole bunch of books by this author from Texas!” And I pointed at “You Got To Dance With Them What Brung Ya” or maybe it was “Molly Ivins Can’t Say That, Can She?” I hadn’t cracked either book, but I was a teen and figured Texas people must like Texas people, right?


The couple (who were searching for a gluten-free recipe book IN THE NINETIES) looked at me in abject disgust.

“She’s great,” said the woman. “If you like communists.” She spat the word out like it was poison.

Molly Ivins wasn’t a communist. (Although it turns out I do like some communists, sometimes, especially when they give me jobs.) But she was a kickass, take-no-prisoners, totally rockin’ journalist who once got fired from the New York Times Rocky Mountain bureau for referring to a cockfight as a “gang pluck.” She is my alpha and my omega, my spirit animal in the sky, my role model for writing things on pages and on screens, and a wonderful person to quote today and every day. I wish she were still alive so I could write her gobs of fan mail, but she died of breast cancer in 2007, right around the time I got my first “real” writing job (at Phamaceutical Executive magazine, natch.)

Here, then, is some wisdom from Molly, circa a 1993 issue of Mother Jones (article title: “The Fun’s in the Fight”):

So keep fightin’ for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don’t you forget to have fun doin’ it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin’ ass and celebratin’ the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was.

Hell. Yeah.

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  • Back when I was a spoiled brat entitled Republican, Molly Ivins was one of the few liberal writers that I enjoyed.No, the history of my political thought makes no sense whatsoever…

    • sarabenincasa

      I used to think gays and abortion were eeeevil so it’s okay, I get it.

      • Force Crater

        I did too! (At 8-years-old, by 9 I realized that most of what I had been told by adults was total bullshit. Luckily my parents didn’t encourage that bullshit. I got free of Christian school when the teacher said we couldn’t study FDR because he was a Comminist. My mother wanted to go to school and beat her ass. My father compromised by pulling me from the school.) Molly reminded me of my mother: larger-than-life, take no shit from anyone! These kinds of women laid the brick that built this country. We should appreciate every day the fact that these women had the spines to stand against the weight of the bullshit-filled good old boys. We wouldn’t be where we are if not for their heroic efforts. (And, man, we really need more!)

    • Mojopo

      I miss her every election cycle. Each time. No one ever crapped on bad politicians so well, and which such delight. I read quite a bit, and I deeply appreciate the way Wonkette carries on in the spirit of her work, but there will never be another Molly.

  • rebecca

    so much like Emma Goldman’s I don’t want to be part of any revolution that won’t let me dance :)

    • sarabenincasa

      Yes, so beautiful.

    • Isadorica

      I love both Emma goldman and Molly Ivins and I love the dance quotation , but Goldman never actually said it. Not to be a drag.

      • rebecca

        I am just going to decide that you are lying.

        • marindenver

          Me too. ;-)

        • Isadorica

          i understand…

  • Grant

    My favorite Molly Ivins story is this: When she was in Montana covering something or other for the Times, she stopped at a restaurant and ordered a steak dinner, which came with a “side salad” of a couple pieces of lettuce. The waitress saw her eat the lettuce and said, “Well shit, honey, if I knew you was gonna eat that I would’a washed it first.”

    • sarabenincasa

      I never heard that one! Love it!

  • I actually talked to her on the phone once – someone was friends with her and gave me her contact info. She was busy to get together or chat long at the time and it still eats away at me that I was too shy to call her back.

  • marindenver

    Thanks for the Mother Jones quote. I hadn’t seen that before and that is so Molly. I loved her. I still love her. I miss her all the time.

  • cgwalt

    Gawd I miss her. My favorite patriot.

  • Bill Nilsen

    I miss her a lot. I just made that photo above (beautiful) my computer’s desktop wallpaper.

  • peteywheats

    I used to install screen windows and doors and we went to Molly’s house and she was very friendly. She was hosting a dinner for some folks. One of the greatest.