Years ago, the phone rang. I was sitting in the newsroom. I always hated getting calls at work. Well. The ones that weren’t steamy and inappropriately personal. The caller identified himself and said he was from The Los Angeles Times. Deftly and politely, I cut him off. I said I got the competition’s bird-cage liner for the Double-Headed eagle (national bird of Russia) at home AND office. Read the sports section. Used the rest for the outhouse. Thanked him. As receiver descended toward cradle, I heard screaming. The caller wasn’t from circulation. He was a reporter. He was writing a story about me.
A Big Story.
My face twisted into the distrusting expression you get upon discovering a burning bag on your front porch. You’re tempted to stomp out the flames, then realize, the brown paper bag might be filled with dog poop. I glanced around the newsroom for the guilty prankster.
Surprise? There wasn’t one.
I coquettishly fanned myself as I answered questions on my all-time favorite topic — me.
The Times published this huge front-page feature in their Sunday Lifestyle. The courting process began. The Times offered a job. A big, fat, high-visibility job four times what I was making at Your Hometown Newspaper. Suits wined and dined me, laughed a little too easily at my wry observations. I traipsed Downtown for a final martini lunch. The check flirted with the gross national product of Uruguay.
This is around the time Southern California’s major newspaper was undergoing a cultural war. The new, leftist guard was helping the paper grow by making it the laughingstock of the nation. A volunteer staff of The Forever Disgruntled & Should Be Unemployable was formed. They published a hit list of Words Thou Shalt Never Utter Let Alone Type, which included changing “manhole cover” to “personalhole cover.”
Not making that up.
Try asking: “May I please see your Personhole Cover?” to some tough foreman from Caltrans.
One Times reporter covering the Joint Chiefs of Staff drolly noted he could collect bonuses by inserting women’s reactions. Like: “…Shirley, not a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, commented…” It got so bad, the PC Washington Post, New York Times, Time Magazine and Newsweek were MAKING FUN of our L.A. paper.
Silly me. As we nibbled on desserts, I spoiled it by asking the obvious. The suits had confessed their guilty pleasure — they read my little rural hamlet column every day. “LOVE your work!!”
I queried: “How many of my columns would actually run in The Times if you hired me?”
The expressions? Priceless. They wanted me to bring humor to their dour and funereal daily. BUT, don’t write anything approaching humorous. That’s like being a circus strongman without actually lifting anything.
CNN recently announced they’re looking into banning yet more words from their Watched Only By The Cuomo Family News Network.
“Master bedroom?” Racist.
CNN’s Harmeet Kaur and Scottie Andrew, whose lower lips precede them by a quarter of an hour, explained that words don’t have to be racist to be banned. “While it’s unclear whether the term is rooted in American slavery on plantations, it evokes that history,” Scottie and Kaur wrote.
Their Target du Jour? The Master’s golf tournament, named to honor duffers with annoyingly great long games, boring conversation and pronounced farmer’s tan.
Like the little kid in verbal blood lust, the Left just loves to stifle and control. “Evoke” is one of their favorite silver bullet words. It’s a totalitarian dream verb, meaning, “to bring to mind.” It doesn’t matter what you say, if liberals blurt out “evoke!” the conversation crashes. You say, “stop light” and a numbnuts can diagram to the insane, reductio ad absurdum, how “stop light” can be linked to slavery.
Our English language is filled with systemic and problematic words and terms. Like “peanut gallery.” Or, “blacklist.” Or, “cakewalk.” Today, “cakewalk” means an easy feat. But, in pre-Civil War days, it was an African-American gyration that made fun of white high-society dances. The Washington Post? Racist. George owned slaves and a Post is what he chained them to. Some leftist teachers now claim math is racist.
The Self-Righteous Gene. It comes with pointy teeth, bloodshot eyes and mad scientist hair with noticeable clumps missing. The Left’s Self-Righteous Gene is forever jumping up and down, screaming long after it’s lost its voice.
You see that behavior in little kids. Surrounded by adults, the tot hears a grown-up utter an innocent statement, like: “I was at the bottom of the barrel!”
The toddler screams: “YOU CAN’T SAY ‘BOTTOM!!!’ IT’S A NAUGHTY WORD!!”
The child’s outburst wasn’t in any defense of decency or decorum. Unless they’re serial killers, kids don’t plan things like this. Yet, here’s his get-out-of-jail-free card. He could scream and nag those five truck sizes up the food chain. The worst such sermonizing would deserve are chuckles from the grown-ups and pats on the head. Maybe, if the toddler was unlucky, he’d be hit with A Teachable Moment and have to stand there while listening to the 1,396 different meanings of “Bottom…”
But the spoiled toddler today? They’re in their 30s and 40s.
In a sane world, babies and nut jobs don’t drive automobiles. They don’t sit on corporate boards or control multi-million-dollar budgets. I’d like to write they don’t get to scream through a bullhorn non-stop at the dinner table. But, they do.
Embarrassed, we wince, cough into our napkins and try to focus on some hanging antique plate on a wood-paneled wall.
Heavens. Anything is better than confrontation — isn’t it?
It’s easy to laugh at the Left, pompous, self-righteous, loud and dumber than a bag of Los Angeles Times executive editors. But, alas, there’s a problem. That hoarse, shaming, scolding, nagging and darkly comic scream? It’s now the Official and Orwellian Language of America.
Over the years, with our simpering grins and spineless tut-tuts, the sane have no one to blame but themselves.
John Boston is a local writer.