Luke Macannuco sat down at a table at his home in Winchester on April 23 and typed out a fiery response to a letter from a President Trump supporter that had appeared in his hometown paper.
A week later, the 13-year-old has received accolades for his pointed rebuke from people across the country — including the likes of Chelsea Clinton and actor Andy Richter — much to his family’s surprise.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Luke’s mother, Shawn Macannuco, told the Globe. “He kind of wondered if anyone would read the letter. The fact that it wasn’t only read in our town, but read everywhere — it’s blowing his mind.”
Luke’s letter, which was published in The Winchester Star, was a rebuttal to a letter composed by Winchester resident John Natale a week before.
Natale, a Trump supporter, had written to the newspaper expressing his concerns about signs that were popping up around town that read, “Hate Has No Home Here.” He called the signs provocative and questioned the message they conveyed.
The signs, which are translated into English, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, and Korean, first appeared in Chicago. They have since sprouted up on lawns across the country by the thousands.
Natale’s issue with the signs, he wrote, is that the message seems obvious, especially in his community. So he didn’t see why people felt the need to prominently place them outdoors.
“Of course hate has no place in our homes; so why proclaim it with a lawn sign?” Natale wrote. “It is a truism like the ‘Black Lives Matter’ signs. All lives matter, no more, no less than any other race.”
The letter went on to ask those who were displaying the signs several direct questions.
“Who are the haters that you, the sign owner, are referring to?” Natale asked. “What, or whom, do the haters hate? What is the evidence there is significant hate in our community?”
Natale, who did not want to comment but forwarded his letter to the Globe, also called the lawn signs divisive, and said it was unfair to say that “Winchester has a hate problem.”
“Where is it?” he asked. “It is offensive to imply that the rest of us — who don’t have a sign and who don’t think the way you think we should — are haters.”
Natale suggested people pull the signs out of the ground, and place them in their homes, to “spare the rest of us the annoyance of looking at it.”
“I believe the ‘Hate has no place in this home’ lawn signs are self-righteous, exhibit snow-flake sensitivity and they achieve nothing,” he said.
But Natale’s opinion, according to Luke’s mother, didn’t sit well with her teenage son.
“He had said, ‘Oh, my God, I have to do something about this,’” said Macannuco. “It really irritated him.”
And so he sat down on a recent Sunday evening, and addressed Natale’s series of “burning inquiries.”
“I read, with great interest, Mr. John Natale’s colossal misunderstanding of the ‘Hate Has No Home Here’ signs,” Luke’s letter began. “The posters are referencing the entire U.S.A., a country that does not tolerate hate in spite of its current leadership. Those people who have chosen to place a ‘Hate Has No Home Here’ sign on their lawn are standing behind their belief that the country should be free of hate.”
Luke then answered Natale’s questions, one by one, with a tinge of snark.
In response to Natale asking “Who are the haters?” the seventh-grader said they were the “bigots who are trying to take away protections for transgender students, deport refugees, and build a very expensive wall to keep illegal immigrants out.”
And to provide context to Natale’s question, “What is the evidence that there is significant hate in our community?” Luke replied with this: “Me getting called homosexual slurs by students and adults alike.”
The letter concluded by telling Natale that “if you’re going to ask us to do you a favor and take the signs down, do humanity a favor and take your Trump signs down.”
The letter was signed “Luke Macannuco, 7th grader.”
Shawn Macannuco and Luke thought that would be the end of it — a simple response and an exercise in freedom of speech.
They hoped that people in town would see, based on Luke’s writing, that teenagers are engaged in what’s happening in their community, and across the country.
But a day after the letter appeared in the newspaper, Matthew Segal, a legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, shared a picture of it on Twitter.
"Local paper published a letter criticizing ‘Hate Has No Home Here’ signs,” Segal tweeted. “This response from a *7th grader* is [fire emoji].”
Segal’s post quickly took hold, and was shared more than 11,000 times on Twitter, including by Chelsea Clinton and other celebrities.
“It was just going crazy,” Macanucco said. “I think he was overwhelmed by the positivity of it all.”
As the letter made the rounds on social media, however, it also elicited some negative responses.
Some started to question whether it was actually written by Luke himself.
In her son’s defense, Macanucco jumped on Twitter, a social media platform she is slightly unfamiliar with, she said.
“Wrong. He is in 7th grade. And he wrote it,” Macanucco wrote. “I know because I sat and did a jigsaw puzzle next to him as he typed.”
When asked by the Globe if she had a hand in helping beef up Luke’s letter, Macanucco said that aside from some light editing, the words came directly from her son.
“He totally wrote that letter,” she said. “I gave it a glance.”Steve Annear can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.