I Am Charlie. Unless you live in a cave, you probably have heard something about a terrorist attack on a weekly magazine in Paris this week. Charlie is Charlie Hebdo. Who’s he? Well, that’s French for Weekly Charlie — and they chose “Charlie” for Charlie Brown, the perpetual underdog in the Peanuts comic strip.
I write This is True (and edit the submissions of the contributing writers) each Sunday. On Mondays I write the surrounding material, like the Honorary Unsubscribe. It’s a fair amount of material, and it’s almost always possible to get it done in two days.
But not this week.
A good friend “shared” something on social media not too long ago that really made me roll my eyes. It was about the wanna-be terrorist “Shoe Bomber” Richard Reid. Just before Christmas in 2001, Reid, a Brit, got on an American Airlines plane from Paris to Florida, and while in-flight he tried to light a bomb in his shoe. Other passengers subdued him, and his airplane bombing fizzled. He’s now in prison in the U.S., serving a life sentence without parole.
Yes, I know I’m weird. I know I see things differently than most people. I know I notice things that …um… normal people mostly wouldn’t. And I skim a lot of news stories while searching out illustrations of the Human Condition.
Simply put, I fully believe in the idea that “all men* are created equal” and are entitled to equal protection under the law.
*(“men” being a generic word for humans, as in “mankind” — I believe the statement equally applies to women.)
After my previous blog post, the response from readers was fantastic — the clarity, the different ideas, the stating the problem without blaming or exonerating guns. But Rob in Sydney Australia didn’t seem to “get” what I was saying that in the national “debate” about mass shootings, we’re asking the wrong questions. It came to a head after this comment, by Tyler in Massachusetts:
Is it guns? Is it violent TV shows, movies, or video games? Is it crazy America?
It’s 2012. There are no more adventures. Been there, done that, seen it, ho hum, right?
There are still adventures to be had in this world, and several of them happened this past week.
My writing time this week was interrupted: I only started in the late evening, because I had my satellite TV tuned in to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where they were monitoring the landing of the latest rover on Mars, Curiosity (the best-named science craft ever); the mission itself is called the Mars Science Laboratory — accurate, if not as inspiring.
Two stories this week will, I think, generate some comments from readers. One has a zero tolerance theme, and the other is a minor political scandal. They’re both from True’s 19 February 2012 issue.
I posted this on Facebook on Sunday (22 January). The response was amazing:
I’ve had a couple of complaints about a story in the 7 August 2011 issue. Let’s start with the story:
There were a couple of stories I found earlier in the month, but decided to hold until the Memorial Day issue. And they get to be in the blog, since one of them has illustrations you need to see for the complete effect.
Last week I did a harder-than-usual “push” for subscription upgrades. You might like to know the excellent result: 32 upgrades. Just 32 upgrades is “excellent”?! Yep. The week before, it was four. The week before that was better: 15.
I can’t just title this page “The End of the World” because that has been predicted before. And before that. And before that, and — well, you get the idea.
I find it difficult to “celebrate” any death, but I have to admit to feeling a bit of satisfaction that a man who declared war on us finally got a small measure of payback. (“I’ve never wished a man dead, but I’ve read some obituaries with great pleasure.” —Mark Twain)
A few thoughts about today’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The video coming out of there is horrific. There will surely be many thousands of casualties.
I did get some complaints last week about the story of the guy who lost his arm when it became stuck in his furnace boiler. I have my own response to the complaints of “poor taste” and “NOT FUNNY!”
I also have a reply from the reader I was thinking about when I wrote the story — a Premium subscriber who is missing an arm.
The New York Times had an article today on a ridiculous zero tolerance situation: a kid in Delaware who was so excited to get his Cub Scouts camping utensil — a fork, knife and spoon combo — that he took it to school to eat his lunch with. Yeah, a Cub Scout: Zachary Christie is just 6 years old.