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The Sunday Punc – Uh, Monday PunchUp

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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.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. I didn’t get worked up over the vaccination of children, but a lot of parents do. Anything involving raising children (“don’t tell me how to raise my kids”) will provoke that response from a lot of parents – and only parents will understand.

    I did get worked up (in favor of erring on the side of compassion for children – which I think is a GOOD thing) and I was warned by a “non-parent.” Maybe it’s healthier to let parents be parents. It’s tough sometimes, but very rewarding for those of us who chose parenthood, and don’t regret out decision.

    I don’t believe in attacking any organization, but attacking your readers back? I was taught “two wrongs don’t make a right.”

    There is no reason to cause resentment. Can’t we all get along, and just let people be themselves? We don’t live in a perfect world.

    Have a blessed day everyone…

  2. Noted the buzz surrounding the measles thing and was kind of confused by it too. We make our decisions on inoculations after research because some are potentially bad and some are life saving. Seemed to me like most of the harsher stuff was confined to your facebook page. It seems to still be going. I’ll agree with the previous post and say much of this appears to be driven by some mega parents along with a few conspiracy theorists. I will say that right now we have bigger fish to indict.

  3. You are making me homesick! Sunday Lunches were special and fun though we were given more to reading The Times than Punch. To your point I do believe much is lost by delivery via the Internet and people do often fail to detect an underlying irony or humor. It does seem that someone in your profession would need to exercise caution in this day and age as recent events have clearly shown. And while it may seem strange to encounter this level of paranoia and suspicion over a simple post I would argue that it is an indicator of our current condition, both here in my adopted country and in the U.K.

    • Hey, Linda, and G’morning and to be clear we weren’t unduly upset by the response to a (what we thought) was a fairly straightforward post but we did want to discuss the potential cause behind it. We’ve been called much, much worse, believe us! And thanks for your post… as ever.

    • Agree. Interesting that it would seem to flourish on facebook while the same linked story did not inspire that kind of response on the site. Is that the way it usually works?

  4. The flare-up on News24/680 Facebook was actually very mild compared to what I’ve read on another site (partnered with this site) regarding previous “vaccination threads.” Sadly, a lot of parents think vaccinations cause autism. As a parent (whose kids are grown) and a former member of the medical profession, and a cousin to a parent whose child has severe autism, I believe some parents are truly convinced (and scared) of vaccines. I disagree with them, and I think the answer is education. You have to be a responsible parent, and vaccinate your children.

    Referring to others as “idiots” is name calling, and that’s a reflection on you. Not everyone is highly educated.

    • Good post and thanks for it. We thought we had a clinical rationale for getting an assessment for possible exposure to the virus in the announcement from Public Health and any other clinical discussion of the topic is certainly always welcome.

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