Dear Newsies,

I’m trying to put myself in your shoes. I get that you’re a rag-tag bunch of rascals who, for some reason, smoke cigars at age 10. I get that the way a group of ruffians like you show that you’ve accepted someone into your community is to give them a nickname. I got it. But you really can’t name a kid “Crutchie,” assholes.

Don’t try to dismiss this as “just a nickname.” If it were a nickname, you’d also remember his real name. Do you know what his real name is? I don’t. And I don’t think he does either anymore. When he got taken to the Refuge, he sent you a letter and signed it “Crutchie.” Who does that? This is your fault. You’ve erased the name of a young boy with no family and made him think that his only identifier in life is maybe an ableist slur.

Also, if you’re going to make that his name and his calling card, maybe get him a second crutch? I know it’s the late 19th century and everyone only used one really uncomfortable wooden crutch for reasons no one can explain to me, but would it have killed you to help the guy out? Spring for a second one if that’s going to be his name? It’s gotta be more efficient for moving around, and before you tell me you don’t have the money to buy him another crutch — you know that I know you guys just steal things, right? Like, constantly. Make him a little more steady on his feet if you’re going to keep leaping and twirling around in his face.

And for the record, I know you can dish out cooler nicknames than that. Kid Blink? That’s cool as hell. Racetrack Higgins? Even cooler. Spot Conlon? Okay, that one sounds like a dalmatian, but at least it’s not offensive. And your leader, Jack Kelly? Not even his real name either. Why didn’t you give the orphan with the disability who’s been on his own for years something that’s a little more empowering? Why couldn’t he have been Jack Kelly? And that punk can go by his real name, Francis.

Maybe if you’d quit tap-dancing on newspapers for like two seconds you could find some empathy. And, yeah, perhaps this kind of playful bullying is exactly the behavior you’d expect from kids ages 8-14 who live in a real Lord of the Flies-type scenario. Still, if you’re trying to unionize an entire industry, you’re going to have to be professionals. You know, people who don’t name their friends “Crutchie.” Otherwise, I just don’t see the paper magnates Pulitzer and Hearst taking you all that seriously.

Anyways, best of luck with the whole strike thing.