Best intentions to sit before the Great Glowing Box and crank out a weekend-ending column Sunday gave way to what we can only call “the pressures of life” as time with readers, past pals and family held sway.
Some of you may have caught our titular softball toss of a reference to The Punch, a venerable publication given to satire and dry English humor (is there any other kind?) printed with varying degrees of regularity on Sunday’s in England since, oh, about 1841 or so. The Punch, or London Charivari as it was known in some circles, poked fun at puffed up politicians, scoundrels and itself and was a favorite read over Sunday Lunch in England (Roast beef, potatoes and Yorkshire Pudding) and set tongues wagging in pubs across the land.
Think “The Onion,” only without the Internet. And think fondly of a time when people were actually able to appreciate and savor satire without gearing up and roaring off to shoot up a pizza joint.
Sunday Punch caused its own share of controversies, to be sure, but was generally appreciated for its entertainment value, with subscribers reading their favorite passages aloud in the comfort of a smoky, sudsy local to the amusement and vocalized approval or denunciation of fellow patrons. In a literate country known for its ability to bond in relative good humor (the beer helps) and to savor a well-turned written phrase or a public speech delivered by a man in a top hat, Seussian scarf, pajama bottoms and “Wellies,” community is found in thoughtful expression and use of the right words.
America, however, has proven itself as rebellious when it comes to this concept as we did during our little dust up with England in 1776. Our countrymen, it turns out, are so certain of their positions they are willing to kill you if you happen to disagree with them. As scribblers, we are acutely aware of this, always mindful that the ideas we set forth may not sit well with everyone – and that a large segment of the population appears to be heavily armed.
The depth of reader passion over the seemingly most innocent of passages never ceases to amaze us. Recent publication of a county-issued health advisory on a possible measles exposure was routinely posted without a second thought – until the unmistakable “AaaaaaaWhooooo” of Viking War Horns began to sound and the counter we have to determine reader interest in specific stories began to spin like the flow meter on a premium gasoline pump.
“Uh, boss…” one of our merry band said (they don’t actually call me that, but you get the point) “You may want to take a look at this…”
Apparently, vaccination and anti-vaccination factions focused on that one post, drawing their battle lines in the sand and driving its “hit” count to well past 90,000 in a couple of days – prompting a flurry of commentary about measles, vaccinations, and us, not all of it flattering.
Allow us to state here and now that we have no intention of stealing into your home and vaccinating your children as they sleep, that we had no ulterior motive for publishing what to us was a simple public health advisory and that freedoms afforded under the Bill of Rights grants you power to call us “propagandists,” “corporate lackeys,” and “lap dogs to Big Pharma,” but we don’t have to like it. We’re used to this sort of thing and it goes with the territory, but that doesn’t mean we like it. Just so we’re clear on that.
We would have preferred that you look over the information provided and decide for yourself if it was useful to you. Attacking us for providing it seems counterintuitive.
Friends and readers we were pleased to re-connect with over the weekend rightly pointed out that our site derives its energy from a coterie of passionate members “who care.” And they’re right. Passion is good and drives many things – but it can also take people down dark paths they may not intend to go.