Two Stories from Last Week brought complaints that True is politically partisan. The hilarious aspect to the two stories: neither had anything to do with politics, but the readers are so sensitive they thought they were political slams. There were a number of protest unsubscribes, including a Premium reader, which is very unusual.
Let’s start with the two stories, from True’s 5 May 2019 issue:
Vehicle of Destruction
Sheriff’s deputies responded to a residence in Bedford County, Va., on a report of gunshots. Mark Edwin Turner, 56, allegedly got into an argument with his girlfriend’s son, and Turner trumped the dispute by pulling a gun. The girlfriend shielded her son, so Turner shot her, deputies say. “During that time, she was shot a total of five times,” says Commonwealth Attorney Wes Nance. “All of those injuries occurring to her legs.” Turner was subdued with a shot from a beanbag round, and arrested. He is charged with felony malicious wounding, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, and possession of a firearm by a felon. And what was the argument about? “What type of vehicle is best,” Nance said. “Chevy vs. Ford.” (RC/WSET Lynchburg) …Apparently, Teslas haven’t yet made it to Bedford County, Va.
The Democratic Ideal
After running the Tally Ho pub in Canterbury, Kent, England, for 20 years, owner Robert Easton-Park gave up on the venture due to rising costs. He converted the building to a residence for his family two years ago, but council planners have ordered him to convert his home back to a pub as it would otherwise be “a loss of a community facility.” Easton-Park is gobsmacked. “I’m not a developer selling it off to try to make money,” he said. (RC/Kent Messenger) …So whether he likes it or not, he has been ordered to be a Republican.
Does that first story seem political to you? (More on the second one in a moment). Well, reader reaction was swift, but there was only a smattering. I’m choosing not to identify the readers, even with a location; each bullet is a different reader’s comment.
The first came from a Premium (paid edition) subscriber:
- “No more issues. Ever.”
I think that means “unsubscribe,” and the reader ignored my reply asking for details of the problem.
- “‘Turner trumped the dispute by drawing a gun.’ Was that the way it was originally written or did someone on your staff try to imply something else? (BTW, I am not a Trumpster. I do take note of how you try to avoid making political and general references, except when there is an obliviot involved.)”
Each story is written by the contributor noted in the source area, in this case “RC” — me. While I do edit the stories by other contributors, I wouldn’t put words like that into their mouths.
The only thing we take verbatim from source stories is quotes — and that’s not a quote. I’m not sure what you mean by “imply something else.” I think it reads quite plainly; I was having fun by using alliterations (“Turner trumped” + “dispute drawing”).
Yes, there are more conventional ways to put it — and in 25 years I’ve used them all, so it’s more interesting to not be repetitive.
The Second Story
This is where it gets amusing.
- “In comment to The Democratic Ideal: ‘So whether he likes it or not, he has been ordered to be a Republican.’ I found this very distasteful, especially considering the republican party is normally the ones that protect against these socialist type things. Unsubscribe.”
I found that reader’s decision to not capitalize “Republican” to be disrespectful of the party.
- “Unsubscribe. The tired trope about Republicans being greedy needs to be retired as much as any other outdated racist or sexist concept. Republicans led the abolition of slavery (over Democrat objections), passed the Civil Rights Act (over Democrat objections), outgive to charity compared to Democrats, and the current Republican policies have led to the lowest unemployment for minorities ever seen in this country. Providing the dignity of work for millions is not greedy — and casual perpetuation of Republicans as ‘fat cats’ or robber barons is lazy and ultimately destructive to uninformed voters who continue to believe such tropes at their own expense. No hard feelings — many great stories and the Unsubscribes will be missed.”
Let me make this clear: the second story is also not political — at all. Not one bit of it. I figured most readers would really love the punny tagline in part because I was in the U.K. when I wrote it.
If you’re confused, this should help:
pub·li·can (pŭb lĭ-kən) noun
1. Chiefly British: The keeper of a public house or tavern.
(Definition from True’s Dictionary of Record: American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.)
The word literally defines what the story subject was — a tavern (or “pub”) keeper — and he has been ordered by the government to be one again: a “re-publican” demand if I’ve ever heard one. And with that in the tagline, I certainly had to provide “equal time” in the slug (“The Democratic Ideal”)!
It is, frankly, stupid to twist this amusing story into a partisan political slam, and those who did just that showed their own bias, not mine: they were indeed baited, and they fell hook, line, and sinker due to their own divisive partisanship. I didn’t make it political, they did.
Sure, I also got messages from readers who “got it” and enjoyed the language twist, and you’re welcome to comment below now that you know some readers didn’t get it — at all.
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