STICKS & STONES & WORDS

IF YOU'RE GOING TO WRITE A BLOG you want to believe you have something to say, and you want to hope someone out there besides your mother will read it. Sometimes, depending on the topic you’re writing about, you want to create a sense that you might know what you’re talking about. I’m going to try that.

  • I majored in journalism at The University of Tulsa.
  • I’ve been to Paris.
  • I love satire.
  • I was once beaten up for a satirical comment.

It was fifth grade, recess on the playground at Jenks Elementary School. There was this kid that was purported to have been in fifth grade for a few years now. I quipped that, "I bet if he ever finished fifth grade he would probably be so excited that he might cut himself shaving." Word quickly spread. He was mad, out for revenge, and it would all go down at recess. Sure enough here he came. He walked up to the jungle gym I had climbed to the top of, hoping for a battle advantage. He took a long drag from his Marlboro, flipped it to the asphalt, and ground it out with his boot. A crowd gathered, like happens when there’s likely to be blood shed on the playground. Fortunately, the crowd drew the attention of the teachers “on duty”. The crowd dispersed, disappointed. After school, as I walked to the school bus, here he came around the corner. He pulled my blue, canvas-like notebook from my arms. He said, “You hurt my feelings kid. Now I’m going to hurt yours.” Then he whacked me across the head with my own notebook. I lay in the gravel stunned for a minute, then he reached down and helped me up, dusted me off and offered me a Marlboro. [At least in my fifth grade/now 64 year-old mind that’s the way I remember it.]

I know that Sticks and Stones and (maybe even 3-ring binders) can break one’s bones, but as it turns out, sometimes, Words do hurt.

 I feel bad for having a laugh at Harper's expense, but what a great metaphor this is. Surely you've had times when you were having a great time and all of a sudden you find yourself tangled up in your own balloons.

I feel bad for having a laugh at Harper's expense, but what a great metaphor this is. Surely you've had times when you were having a great time and all of a sudden you find yourself tangled up in your own balloons.

For the most part, here at About Pops, I try to stay clear of hardcore politics. So what I’m aiming for here isn’t at all political commentary. It’s just me thinking out loud. Oh, and don’t you dare go away from this trying to say that I am in any way was justifying the ugly deeds of terrorists in Paris. AND, assuming anyone is still reading this (which I realize is an enormous jump to a conclusion), don’t think for a second that I am trying to equate getting beat up on the playground with the massacre at the magazine studio.

In journalism school we were taught with conviction that a free press is crucial, and I believe it. But free press or not, free speech or not, words and cartoons sometimes hurt. As I learned in the fifth grade, we are free to say whatever we want. That doesn’t mean though that we might not get hit in the head with a notebook.

I didn’t learn a lot from that day. I still love satire (I'm writing this post aren't I?). It seems we need to be secure enough in our convictions that we can laugh at ourselves. If you read my post called, Keeping Company, I chose David Letterman, Tina Fey and Amy Pohler as guests at my dinner because, although I am sometimes offended, they make me laugh.

Does humor sometimes hurt? Yes. Does it sometimes offend? Yes. Does it incite anger? Yes. Do we need to laugh? Yes.

I’m trying to reconcile our need to laugh and the fact that in the end, sometimes, Words; like Sticks and Stones, do hurt.

DISCLAIMER: If I’ve offended anyone here, I’m sorry. I hope you were at least a bit entertained. See what I mean? This is a conundrum.