Lion Claws Child, Gives New Award, The Paw Thorn Award

Normally The Lion does not fang and claw children and old ladies, unless they are Republican, in which case they will be properly rended.

There are practical reasons for not attacking children and old ladies, not least among them that they are usually stronger, faster, and quicker than The Lion. Meaner, too, especially the old ladies.

However, there are times when children and old ladies need suffer the kind attentions of The Lion, and in this case the object of attention is a child, a teenager to be more precise, who had the misfortune to have a letter to the editor published in the Globe.

Normally such an event would not register on The Lion’s delicate but powerful radar. After all, what sort of person goes around attacking children for joining the community of public letter writers?

One concerned for the future of the Republic, that’s what sort. Indeed, one concerned for the very future of all mankind. And most profoundly, one burned out on American political campaigns, Olympic boreage, and stuck home because of the rain.

Herewith, today’s award-winning letter:

RE “NOT proud of Globe” (Letters, Aug. 6): As another 17-year-old hailing from the underfunded public school system, it is a rare event that I should muster the willpower to communicate my approval with this very publication, which a fellow student was unable to do in criticizing the Globe’s choice of coverage. This strange ability to sympathize has spawned from my tour as editor in chief of my school’s newspaper.

In my tenure I learned the importance of “interesting the apathetic.” Yes, there are far greater matters going on in the world than tabloid news. But the fact of the matter is that today such is a necessary compromise for proper print journalism. Writers, editors, and most importantly publication, all come at a great cost in this digital age.

Helping a fledgling paper get off the ground has given me this valuable insight. The front page is an incredibly large advertisement designed to attract readers, and thus generate the necessary revenue to print “true news.” If one could muster the strength to turn the page he would find what he should know right there. I find it disturbing that anyone would risk coming off as petulant because they are unwilling or incapable of showing sympathy toward a medium they are determined to utilize.

Normally The Lion would neither notice nor care about this bit of overblown language, but this fellow claims to have toured as an editor-in-chief of a school newspaper. Indeed, he claims he had tenure. At 17! Tenure!

The Lion has to question the very foundations of an education system that apparently has convinced this poor soul that he can write well enough to be an editor of anything.

The fellow has suffered a rare event in his life. How terrible to have to muster his willpower to communicate his approval of a newspaper. Of course it’s a rare event. The work involved in creating that sentence would deter the hardiest hack. The Lion would simply approve (or disapprove) of the Globe. But of course The Lion seldom musters anything anymore, so perhaps he is simply no longer in tune with the teenage intelligentsia.

But wait, there’s more. The fellow has managed to spawn sympathy and simultaneously regard sympathy as a strange ability. ‘Spawn’ carries the sense of strange, non-human things laying eggs in dark places – fish in the deep sea, salmon rushing upstream in a race with death, Hollywood producers creating puerile movies – but spawning sympathy? Lovecraft’s mind would reel. It would indeed be a strange ability had it to be spawned.

There follows the piece de resistance, the moist chocolate cake with thick frosting, the bosomy blonde in the tiny bikini. Our fellow has learned the importance of ‘interesting the apathetic’.

The Lion cannot resist.

What this fellow’s writing shows is that he has learned the art of ‘boring the interested’.

He has mastered the skill of big words and stuffy syntax to muffle and hide his meaning. Someone, somewhere, has taught him to write this way. The effort of trying to mangle his meaning with such language must have drained all his strength, because he believes turning a newspaper page requires the mustering of strength, not to mention utilizing a medium. He even managed to work in ‘petulant’.

The Lion believes that if whatever he is talking about was worth the great trouble he went through to obfuscate it, then he should get an award.

Thus, The Lion institutes the Paw Thorn Award for civilian writing that causes pain in The Lion’s paws and is a thorn in the side of intelligent discourse.

Congratulations, young fellow. And The Lion doesn’t feel too badly about clawing you. After all, with your ability to hide meaning behind language and publicly demonstrate muddy thinking, you will probably end up a Republican.

[The Lion notes that if he were properly in the business of giving awards that mattered in the real world, he would send this youngster a copy of Writing With Precision by Jefferson Bates.]


9 Responses

  1. I agree with your assessment Ric but in defense of the youth of our State I would invite readers to check out the letter Master Confusion refers to. It captures something I felt was true of the Globe and other papers whence I read and delivered it many moons ago.(click the “Not proud of Globe” link)


  2. The person who really deserves the Lion’s derision is the teacher who supervised/advised the school’s newspaper staff.


  3. alfie –

    The problem with the linked letter is a basic misunderstanding of the news business. A local child kidnapped is worth more than 145 Hindus killed on the other side of the world, newswise.

    Back before newspapers and mass media, the important stuff was what happened down the street, and maybe in the next town. It was local. It involved people you knew.

    With the advent of mass communication the world got smaller. Now you could read about war, death, and famine in India or China, but placement in the newspaper depended on some extent to whether there was a local angle. Local angle, page one. No local angle, page sixteen.

    Now of course the concept of ‘local’ has expanded to include Washington, DC; anywhere American troops are fighting; and so on. But unless there’s a big story involved, something with wide ramification, a little girl kidnapped trumps.

    Of course visual media has perverted this idea. Scot Petersen kills his wife in California and we have to hear about it for months, even though it has no import outside of the local jurisdiction in California. It’s treated essentially as ‘local’.

    I think that current national political news should trump the little girl. It affects every community on crucial matters for which the citizens must have accurate, unbiased information. Obama-McCain should be on page one every day for the rest of the year. So should Iraq and Afghanistan for the illegality, the immorality, and the drain of blood and money from America. The little girl story involves a handful of people. In the larger scheme of things, it’s not an important story. But it sells papers because it’s easy – easy to write, easy to understand, and carries an emotional kick – and thus the writers will go for it and the readers will go for it. The other stuff, the important stuff, that’s too hard.

    Which takes us back to education, and the lack thereof in matters of civic and political responsibility and understanding.


  4. Ex –

    Absolutely, but also, as I noted, the entire educational system stands to blame. Who teaches writing this way, and how on earth did he get certified as a teacher?

    Assuming, of course, that the kid didn’t just haul off and teach himself from some bad materials.

    I was writing professionally for a daily newspaper when I was fifteen, and even then I was way ahead of this guy. But he’s got tenure and strange abilities. Maybe I was spawned up the wrong stream.


  5. Ric said: As another 17-year-old

    Old enough to be tried as an adult here in CA, so I hardly feel sympathy on “child” angle. But I think you (and Ex) are being your usual curmudgeonly selves on this one.

    Fuck, I’m INSPIRED when kids these days actually take an interest in things beyond Wii, iPhone, Snoop-Dogg, and reality TV. Most of our youth couldn’t even write in “overblown language” if they attempted to write at all (beyond texting) and they certainly wouldn’t aim it at an issue of public interest.

    I took Amtrak back from Tucson to L.A. last week. My traveling companion was a young woman who had just come out of the Sonora Desert where she was working with the organization “No Mas Muertes” (no more deaths). They do “water drops” along routes known to be used by cayotes, smuggling in their human cargo sans proper supplies to actually survive that 118 degree, 6 day walk.

    I think I hit the lottery. I could have had a seat-mate 2 or 3 million times without coming across a kid like that. When we were young, it wouldn’t have been surprising at all to run into to such youthful optimism/cynicism. Don’t do anything to discourage any of the few young people who attempt to make some impact from doing so. There are far to few of them out there. Believe me. Sad to report, I’m surrounded by young people and I don’t see it.


  6. Well, I’m betting that the kid has a bright future as a grad school professor. His work will be appearing in all the scholarly journals.


  7. evo –

    I wouldn’t have bothered if he hadn’t claimed the authority of being editor-in-chief of a student newspaper.

    Bravo if he’s going to do his bit, like your young train friend, but if he stays on the path he’s on, linguistically speaking, he’ll damage any cause he undertakes to write about.

    And if he’s old enough to be tried as an adult, he’s old enough to take a hit from The Lion. Snarllllll…..


  8. ex –

    That’s the first thought that flashed across my fevered little brain when I first read the letter.


  9. Thanks for the response Ric. I understand the points you make as I see them as a fact. I’d only add that the cynic in me says the kidnap story was front page for three reasons. Reigh,blonde(read white) , & Rockefeller.


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