Or, Much Ado About Nothing!
I got exactly one complaint about a story in the 6 July 2003 issue. Let’s start with the story, and then the complaint:
Remington is introducing its Bikini Trim and Shape electric razor in the U.K. The razor, which was previously introduced to the U.S. market, is specifically designed for women to use to shape their pubic hair. According to the company, their market research found that 79 percent of women shaved off part or all of their pubes, and 36 percent trimmed their hair into a specific design, such as a heart or their partner’s initial. (PA) …In block letters, or Braille?
That one complaint came from Jeff, a Youth Pastor at a First Baptist church in Washington:
I am totally offended by this article. What purpose does it serve? I subscribed to your newsletter under the belief that you were a Christian organization sharing bizarre but true stories. I have occasionally used a story as an illustration during a youth lesson and directed my students to your web site. I am now shocked and embarrassed by what I have directed teenagers to. These teenagers trust me and look to me for spiritual guidance, not for stories concerning peoples private body parts. Church leaders are in a constant battle with the internet and entertainment industry for the attention of the people God has put in our care. When I find something enlightening and uplifting to pass on to my students I do so hoping it may direct them away from some of the negative influences of this world not to articles about pubic hair. I hope I never see another article like this in your newsletter.
After I stopped rolling around the floor laughing like a maniac, I researched Jeff’s subscription: when he wrote, he had been a subscriber for more than four months, so he should have been quite well versed in what True is about — weird-but-true news items. (Duh!) Frankly, I think the concept of women shaving their lover’s initials into their crotch is reasonably weird, especially since “R” (my initial) would be pretty hard to do well. Anyway, how could someone read True for more than four months and not understand that “ThisisTrue.Inc” isn’t a Christian missionary organization?! In his very first issue, the headline of the week was “Whoopee? Oopsie! Honk If the Dealership Used Your Car for Sex”! Since then, the stories in the free edition have included:
- High School staff says principal threatened to kill them, broadcasted gospel music and sermons from his office, claimed the school was possessed by demons, bragged of having a weapons cache and threatened suicide.
- A story about a new coffee house in Alabama called “Bad Ass Coffee Shop” that caused outrage over its name. Many reader letters followed about that, as well as another story in the same issue about a restaurant called “C.O. Jones” (cojones — get it? If not, their slogan “Ballsy Mexican cuisine” ought to help), whose owner called the name “a great marketing tool.”
- 15-year-old patient hires a prostitute to visit him in the ward of a children’s hospital. (Oh yeah, that’s an uplifting, churchy item!)
- Southwest Airlines fires flight crew for making flight “out of uniform” (if you know what I mean — nudge-nudge, wink-wink!)
- And …well, you get the idea. Not to mention various letters from readers about my Get Out of Hell Free cards, stickers and t-shirts, which some fundamental Christians have condemned as “anti-Christian” (and others have embraced with wide grins, from Free Methodist ministers to priests at the Vatican).
Naturally, there were scores of other, less controversial stories during that time. In short, True covers the full gamut of human weirdness, including sex. So how in the world could a youth pastor think that True is a church publication? Because he doesn’t read it. He’s going around telling his teens (who, he may be shocked to learn, also have “private body parts” and, I’m sure, many of whom shave unwanted hair) that this is a great publication. And you know what? It is! That’s why many hundreds of priests, ministers, preachers and other men (and women) of the cloth subscribe, including many to the expanded Premium edition. They get to stay in touch with what regular people are doing out in The World, and they get real life examples of lessons learned (or not!) to use in their sermons. Not to mention they get to be entertained in the process.
And yet, when the guy finally does read an issue, he has the gall to complain to me that he made an error in assuming that this is a church bulletin?! Even though he’s read it closely enough now and then to have “occasionally used a story as an illustration during a youth lesson”? Astounding. So here’s a guy who thinks he’s “watching out” for today’s youth, yet so irresponsible that he doesn’t have any clue about whether a publication he’s been recommending is sacred or secular. Yeah, there’s a role model for you. What do you want to bet that the teens in his group laugh at his cluelessness behind his back as much as I am? Except I do it in front of his front — I sure hope he has all of his parts covered.
As I told Jeff on Tuesday when I replied to his note, the only way for him to “never see another article like this in your newsletter” is to unsubscribe. As of this writing, he’s still on the distribution list. Hello? “Duh” indeed.
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