I think we all know the importance of relieving pressure. Anyone who’s ever shaken up a can of soda before handing it to a “friend” (not that any of us kind and gentle souls would ever pull such a mean prank) can testify to that.
So it is with snarkasm, at least for me. Every so often I have to bleed off some snarky comments to make sure there’s no disaster akin to Sharknado (or its sequels … why, dear God, why???) … guess that’d be a snarknado—there’s still biting involved, but only in the humor.
Once again I offer some answers I really shouldn’t to readers’ questions. As usual when it comes to these, I won’t name names. That’d just be mean.
Thank you for your dare to print your diatribe on the Confederate flag and various other racism-tinged imaginings to prove that we at the paper aren’t cowards, but I’m afraid we must decline. I’m sorry you believe that means that we just don’t have the guts, but we do have very good reasons for turning you away.
First of all, the word limit for letters is an average of about 250 words (based on inch count and the general number of words that fit in that space); for guest columns, it’s about 800 words. Your piece … well, let’s see … four full pages and a little runover onto a fifth, in smaller-than-average text makes that … yeah, I’m not even about to try to count this. Suffice it to say that it would likely take up at least half a page, and that’s just not happening. Perhaps you might try our advertising department. Be prepared for a rather large bill, though.
Then there’s your mandate that it not be edited other than to correct spelling and punctuation errors. Not even our paid writers get that privilege. There’s a very good reason for that: Everyone (and I do mean everyone) needs an editor, and anyone who can’t admit that … should probably not write. I know of no one who is a good judge of his or her own writing, and having a fresh set of eyes helps ensure that you don’t make a fool of yourself. Yes, I know, I make a fool of myself too, but I’m paid for it.
I won’t even get into the trotting out of tired old memes since we all do that occasionally (though I refuse to do that with ones that have been debunked).
The kicker for me is that the person who called us newspaper folk cowards (drum roll, please) … didn’t sign his name.
Way to stand up for what you believe in! I’d shake your hand, but I have no idea who you are.
Dear Mr. Always-Right,
Always a pleasure to hear from you about your belief that conservative letters don’t get printed any more. Again, however, I must remind you that they are indeed published, as long as they don’t contain falsehoods stated as fact (which is the same rule everybody else has to follow). Some writers have figured out that attribution or clearly stating that this is what they personally believe can go a long way toward getting some perhaps questionable tales in.
Perhaps what’s confusing you is the appearance of more liberal and moderate letters on the page than were once printed, since now many people who’d been hectored off the page or were simply afraid to write in now are letting themselves be heard. Or maybe it’s just that you’re now finding out that not everyone believes as you do. (OMIGOD!!!!)
I know that you and some of your compatriots believe I censor conservative voices (yet another tired meme/talking point) by fact-checking (a notion that cracks me up every time I read that comment on the Arkansas Times’ blog [linked above]; scroll to the comment at the end by Thomas Pope). But if what you say is true, you should have no reason to fear independent, nonpartisan fact-checkers.
So I can only assume …
Dear Conspiratorial Nutjob,
If you’ve ever wondered why I ignore your cries of “Agenda 21,” “New World Order,” “Fluoride is evil” and others, surely it couldn’t be the mountains of evidence against them. Yeah, yeah, I know, “they” want us to think they’re not really doing these things … or so you keep telling anyone who’ll listen, as well as manufacture “reliable” sources of information without checking out who’s really providing that proof.
Dear Un-Reconstructed Gadfly,
So you’ve noticed we haven’t printed your letters lately. Good for you!
Of course, it’s not like we printed that many of them before since it was so hard, even in the large number you emailed almost every single day, for us to find any suitable for publication in a family newspaper. Between the obscenities and the white supremacy notions, we didn’t have much to choose from.
No, it wasn’t your constant use of racist and misogynistic epithets that did it, and if you can’t figure out that offering to put a bullet in someone’s head isn’t very smart, well …
“Thank you” for your “impressive” use of quotes and quotation marks in your “submissions.” Stephanie and I truly “appreciate” the added work from looking up quotes that often turn out to be paraphrases, misquotes, “creative” reinterpretations based on your views rather than what was said, or a bunch of random words and phrases thrown together. Sadly, it’s not as entertaining as some “quoted material” I’ve seen. Then there are the quotes from people who didn’t say those words (if you’re going to make quotes up, at least attempt to get the patois of the person, and the etymological timing, correct).
Here’s the basic rule on quotes for journalists and nonjournalists (yes, there are “journalists” guilty of some of these habits … and yes, those air quotes are completely intentional): A quote is just what someone said (and attributed to the correct person). It’s not rearranged to flow better or edited in such a way as to imply a meaning different than that meant by the speaker. If you absolutely must take something out, deleted material must be indicated by ellipses. Brackets are used for additions, but only for clarity’s sake—editorial comments should not be inserted (save it for after the quote, people). Paraphrases don’t take quotation marks, do need attribution, and most definitely should be an accurate representation of the meaning ascribed by the speaker, so don’t give context short shrift. One more “not a Christian nation” diatribe and I may explode.
And please, cool it with the unnecessary quotation marks. All those air quotes are giving me a headache.
Dear Bridge Troll,
Aw, thanks for your concern about my health and state of mind in recent weeks. It seems use of reason confuses you. Obviously, though, you know all, and realize that both John Brummett and I are Democratic operatives. Any criticism either of us has ever had for anyone of the liberal persuasion was clearly nothing but a not-so-clever ruse that only you are smart enough to see, as were complimentary words for any conservative.
I am thrilled beyond words to see that you are still out of touch with reality and utterly bewildered by someone who speaks and thinks rationally, meaning not according to party loyalties and talking points.
As for my “constant defense of things liberal,” well, if you mean my support for common sense, truth, and realism … I guess I’m guilty. It’s not my fault that Donald Trump is in the race for the GOP presidential nomination … or that reality has a liberal bias (thank you, Stephen Colbert!).
Why, yes, the heat is still making me cranky. Even though I might melt if someone threw a bucket of water on me, I’d be more than happy for that bit of coolness right now.
On the bright side, I’ve released a good bit of snarkasm, so I think I’ll sleep well. At least till the next day with a 100-plus-degree heat index … so tomorrow, I guess.