Writing is an art form that requires precision to be most effective. Joseph Wilson, a Presbyterian minister in the 1800s, understood this and tried to impart that wisdom to his son, Thomas Woodrow Wilson, who later became president of the United States.
The young Woodrow, who went by the name Tommy back then, heard this admonition from his father, as recounted in A. Scott Berg’s 2013 biography “Wilson”:
Wilson, the last U.S. president to write all of his own speeches, took the lesson to heart, earning a reputation as a great orator during World War I. “He could extemporize for an hour or longer without a pause or misplaced word,” Berg wrote. “He thought in metaphors, spoke in perfect sentences, and composed entire paragraphs in his head, relying on a superior vocabulary.”
Wilson was about as far from a redneck as you could get, but his father’s rifle-versus-shotgun analogy reveals him as an enlightened redneck. I can’t wait to use the comparison in a writing class.
Filed under: History and Media and People
Back in 1995 during the heyday of the war on Big Tobacco, anti-smoking groups created what they thought was a clever marketing campaign. They contrasted the powerful warning labels for cigarettes in other countries with the weaker labels here in the United States.
To illustrate the point, the clueless crusaders sent sample labels to every member of Congress and to journalists like me. There was just one problem: The labels were on actual packs of cigarettes. Activists who had dedicated their lives to kicking tobacco’s butts had become charity tobacco distributors for a day. Free smokes for everyone!
That irony came to mind today when I saw this “public service announcement” against guns:
“What the ad-makers are encouraging is highly illegal and invites danger,” The Daily Caller noted in describing the ad. “The boy would be guilty of weapons theft, illegal concealed carry and carrying a weapon on school property.”
That last point is the most outrageous when you think about the senseless zero-tolerance atmosphere that anti-gun zealots have inspired in public schools. Children can’t even use their fingers to simulate gun play or shape a pastry to look like a gun without being punished severely.
Who’s the ad wizard who thought it would be a good idea to tell students to sneak actual weapons, and presumably loaded ones, onto school property?!
That’s actually a rhetorical question. Her name is Rejina Sincic, and she is standing by her creation, to the point of calling people “cowards” for not sharing it. Thousands of YouTube viewers have voted the video down, compared with a handful who actually like it, yet she still can’t see the hypocrisy of it all.
That’s what happens when you’re blinded by a superiority complex.
Update, Dec. 27: The backlash against her video, including the Hit & Run blog calling it “the worst anti-gun PSA of all time,” prompted Sincic to make private her original upload, which I had embedded here, and block all comments about the new version, which is now embedded above.
Filed under: Advertising and Culture and Education and Hunting & Guns and Video
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If you’re a manager at a Target department store and deliver a rousing pep talk to your staff before the store opens on Black Friday … you may be an enlightened redneck.
The entertaining redneck in this case is Scott Simms, a manager at the Target in Westminster, Md. His colleague Chole Frebertshauser captured the pep talk on film, and it’s making the rounds via YouTube to the tune of nearly 2.5 million views as of now.
Filed under: Business and Holidays and Movies and Social Media and Video
I penned these words 15 years ago after a national tragedy. I’m sharing them now because they remain relevant, albeit to another tragedy:
This time around, the myth involves a suspected criminal rather than an innocent victim, but it still won’t die. The myth is that Michael Brown was surrendering with his hands up and said “don’t shoot” when Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson shot him to death. Sensational coverage of the Aug. 9 shooting has fueled that myth ever since, and it is now considered unassailable gospel truth in some quarters.
Those quarters include, most notably, the National Football League stadium in the metropolis where the shooting occurred and Capitol Hill. The hands-up gesture is the rallying cry of Brown’s defenders, be they part of an official group like Hands Up United, talking heads in the media or the outraged masses on Twitter.
Or, in the words of protester Taylor Gruenloh: “Even if you don’t find that it’s true, it’s a valid rallying cry. It’s just a metaphor.”
But eloquent protests to the contrary, the truth does matter. Metaphors that perpetuate lies — whether they involve a young, white girl like Cassie Bernall or a young, black man like Michael Brown — breed cynicism and thus deepen the wounds they aim to heal.
That’s why Charles Barkley, a black man and former professional athlete who can identify with both Brown and five St. Louis Rams who thrust their hands in the air on Sunday, lashed out at irresponsible journalists who help spread deceitful metaphors. “I can’t believe anything I hear on television anymore,” he said. “And, that’s why I don’t like talking about race issues with the media anymore because they love this stuff and lead people to jump to conclusions.”
Sports writer John Walters cut to the chase in a Newsweek column: “The grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, failed to indict one police officer; the proliferation of hands up, don’t shoot indicts all of them. To get justice, you must start with the truth.”
Filed under: Culture and Media and News & Politics and People and Sports