You may remember the old "Saturday Night Live" comedy segment featuring Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin. This routine always had Mr. Aykroyd referring to Ms. Curtin as "Jane, you ignorant slut." What most people may not have known was this was a parody, making fun of the successful newsmagazine "60 Minutes" which used a "Point-Counterpoint" segment featuring Shana Alexander and James J. Kilpatrick in the late 70's and early 80's. The "Point-Counterpoint" method of "debate" was so important that we remember nothing of what Kilpatrick or Alexander discussed. Instead we remember that Aykroyd and Curtin made us laugh.
However, I am not laughing now.
A recent Bradley Weekly Editorial took a cheap shot at me. I am a big boy. I have had much bigger names and publications write about me than this cheap cat litter lining paper. So I can certainly handle the heat. But what made this situation even more tasteless and garners a response was Susan Shelton and Company mentioned my fourteen (14) year-old daughter. There is no excuse for doing that, not even from those gutless individuals who profit from character assassination at the Bradley Weekly. For all their misguided attempts at wit or condescension at other peoples expense they fulfill what Malcolm Muggeridge wrote years ago: "Good taste and humor are a contradiction in terms, like a chaste whore."
I remember when the pages of the Weekly would challenge readers with renegade thought, and it could be read and discussed by those with well-informed opinions. Unfortunately those days are long gone, and the Weekly's explicit support of various liberal issues flies in the face of their preachy "we care for the underdog" articles and features. If they had any class as a publication responsible to the citizens of Cleveland, they would quit using their newspaper as target practice to harm well-meaning public officials and settle political vendettas. Sure the cowardly Art Newman column is gone, but the persuasive attack dog attitude remains. It would seem, however, that integrity is easier to preach about than to practice.
Susan Shelton, Bradley Weekly publisher and Mt. Olive Church of God member, this is not "Point-Counterpoint." I am not in the mood for a parody. So you will not get Susan, you ignorant slut from me. This is real life. Whether you personally penned the offensive statement or not, YOU are responsible. You are the publisher. Show me any respectable publication in
America where it is considered honorable to write half of what you advocate in your newspaper, let alone describe a 14 year-old girl as loudmouth.
Susan Shelton does not know my daughter, but she already possesses more talent at age 14 than Susan does in her middle age. I can only assume she is jealous and could not resist the opportunity for a cheap shot. Yes, she writes a column for a rival newspaper. Yes, she is extremely opinionated. Her ability is a gift from God. She is destined for something great, not because of who she is, but because she understands that in the end it is our faith in Christ and obedience to His word that will determine her outcome. She even has Susan Shelton beat in her personal relationship with Christ. She is not a hypocrite. Ask a minister to help you with the definition the next time you grace the church with your presence.
Of all people, a liberal like Susan, should be excited that a young girl has the ability and willingness to take on the task of writing what the world looks like at this critical stage of her life. She has been doing her column for nearly three years. I would not have wanted the challenge at her age, nor would most people. As I sat down to write this article she was at the Florida Journalism Conference. Her teacher submitted her work for an award. Her paper was voted the top student newspaper in Florida. My daughter was awarded the top columnist award in Florida, and was named an "All Florida" journalist. She is also a ninth grade student.
I suppose Susan never got that kind of recognition. She is not even the best writer at the Weekly. Maybe her next column should be "White, Middle-Aged Woman Reflects on Life's Disillusionment." But don't think this is all about Susan. I am angry, and I think she owes my daughter an apology. I suggested to Susan that she write one, and hoped that she would offer one either personally or in her column. She never responded.
Napoleon Bonaparte wrote: "In politics, stupidity is not a handicap." Susan is proving that true in Journalism as well. But I believe she owes her own readers a higher standard than that.
I am also disappointed in Matthew Melton. Here is a Lee University teacher writing for one of the most left-of-center, liberal newspapers in the entire region. Quite frankly, if I had an opportunity to make hiring and firing decisions at my alma mater, Lee University, I would give him a choice: Either them or us. The paper does not match up with the tenets of a private, Christian University where employment is a privilege and free speech is not guaranteed. Matthew, if you lay down with dogs, you do get up with fleas!
In fact, a good project for some motivated politician or concerned citizen might be to pick the best of the Bradley Weekly editorials and articles, and send to Paul Conn and the Board of Directors at Lee University on a regular basis---with comments or scripture references in conflict with the Weekly's worldview. I am sure they would love some of J. Michael Leonard's columns.
Speaking of Leonard, that editorial had a strong flavor of his style. I hope for his sake his finger prints were not on it. The trouble with him is that he lacks the power of conversation, but not the power of speech. One day somebody will cash that check his mouth and pen has been writing. Not even a gluteus maximus the size of his publisher's can cash that check. As with mosquitoes, horseflies, and most other bloodsucking parasites, J. Michael was probably spawned in stagnant water. The Ancient Greek writer Aristophanes sums up my opinion of Leonard, "You have all the characteristics of a popular politician: a horrible voice, bad breeding, and a vulgar manner."
The Weekly consistently editorializes in a liberal bent on all aspects of society and politics. This is not a problem, of course. It is Susan Shelton's right. The good guys for the Weekly are always big government, tax and spend, politician types. What a surprise! As long as advertisers support the Weekly, they can continue put their liberal spin on local politics. Never mind that most of the local policymakers have an altruistic motivation to simply want to give something back to the community. I would think it is time for independent thinking as a guiding force in the papers opines and advertisers should demand it.
Liberals, like Susan Shelton and Company will not be happy until we all live in a socialist hell with their small circle of friends in charge. But by then the Weekly will be out of business, as all the advertisers' businesses will become government agencies that will not be able to find the budget to print weekly liners for the litter box. It is Economics 101. Dale Carniege got it right: "Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain - and most fools do."
Enjoy the laugh.