Peter Cavanaugh

Letters ... we get letters

“Letters ... We Get Letters ... We Get Stacks and Stacks of Letters.” – Perry Como (1957)

While I and fellow columnist Bill Atwood and Sierra Star Editor Brian Wilkinson don’t quite receive “stacks and stacks of letters” every week, a few do come our way, especially to Brian who fields all sorts of random observations, then publishes the ones that can be printed without the writer and the paper being sued - and as space allows. We look forward to hearing from our readership. That’s a fact.

One particular note came to me recently, and I thought I would share. I receive this observation rather often, consider it genuinely valid, and feel it now deserves pubic response.

Our Sierra Star reader writes:

“I usually agree with most of what you say, was a Bernie Sanders supporter also, and find your column entertaining and/or informative. However, perhaps those who don’t agree with you might be able to ‘listen’ to you better if you toned down the put-downs, name-calling and sarcasm. Of course (these) can be part of what makes your column entertaining. Somewhere there’s a balance in there. I think we have a responsibility to speak and write with thoughtfulness, intelligence, and wit that’s not accompanied with denigration.”

This reader is 100% right on the desirability of seeking fair balance, but also correct that “put-downs,” name-calling and sarcasm functionally work in attracting interest and attention. Consider the phenomenal acceptance of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Mark Levin and that Donald what’s-his-name. You can’t argue with success, but you don’t have to like it.

This criticism is timely. Since mid-June I’ve been trying to include more “general interest” material than keep everything primarily “political” - that being the original reason for this column. My first serious attempt was “Senior Sex in Oakhurst.” It worked like a charm, getting reaction, but there are only so many seniors in Oakhurst having sex.

More importantly, it now seems clear President Trump supporters back the man, not any particular mission, and are consequently impervious to attempts at reasonable dialogue. To believe otherwise seems ill advised. In fact - dangerous.

After the president used his Oval Office once again as a killing ground, stabbing both Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan in the back without warning in his capitulation to Democratic demands from Nancy Pelosi a few weeks ago, subsequent polling showed that his core base of support was just fine with that. Life is less complicated when you let others do your thinking.

It’s an ancient drive enshrined in certain DNA coding. Even so, evolutionary forward motion in advancing civilization has depended much more on questions than answers through time. In fact, the very best outcome good answers can hope to generate is simply the eventual creation of better future questions.

With the “Russian hoax” looming ever more scandalous and probably term ending for Trump, it is difficult for any serious opinion column to avoid embracing and endorsing traditional values and national standards – and to do so in a clear and effective manner.

There is this Irish word – “Magadh” – pronounced “Mah’Gah.”

Magadh is the Celtic word for ridicule. The Irish have classically regarded ridicule as an art form onto itself. True “Magadh” requires negative evaluation in a comedic form with colorful scorn and clever denunciation darkly presented in a mocking tone.

Even the English word “mocking” reflects “mah’gah” ancestry. The joy of laughter not only vindicates, but verifies common, instinctive truths.

So, this Caom’hanach’ (Cavanaugh) ends his dissertation on content with a salute to and acceptance of genetic predisposition, ascribing much of what he writes as being faithfully reflective of and honoring to all who’ve come before.

Nothing more.

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