Headlines and subheads are the beginning - not the end of the journey
By Brian J. Karem
I wonder through whose eyes I see
As I watch the chaos swirling around me,
My son, his son and a future unknown
Reading comprehension is learned – or in some cases not.
Comprehension plus the love of reading can take you on many an interesting journey. Being curious on that journey is a seed that when planted leads to higher learning, increased awareness, arts, science and bipedal locomotion. (Read it in Otter’s voice from Animal House. It’ll make sense).
Some don’t have the energy. Best we not speak ill of those who’ve never lived though they may draw breath. Rather, let’s stay in the common room whose signpost is up ahead. We call it reality. Some plumb its depths while others not so much.
For example, there is a common breed of human that believes it can ascertain the truth after merely reading 10 words. They consider themselves well informed. They are wrong.
Admittedly the Gettysburg Address was short (272 words) but you still can’t tell what it was all about after just the first 10 words. “Four Score and Seven years ago our forefathers brought forth,” and leave it at that. Brought forth what? A dinner party? A man servant dressed in black leather named “The Gimp?” Genocide? The possibilities are endless – even if you’re not a comic.
Anyway, the first ten words? Yeah. The length of a headline of a published news article. Millions of people are already done reading before they get to the subhead. The headline and the subhead may or may not accurately reflect the story, but it sure is hard to comprehend what you haven’t read – and yet there are those who consistently claim to do so.
Again, George Carlin was right. Think of how stupid the average person is and realize half of them are stupider than that.
Everyone just read that in Carlin’s voice and inflection. Admit it.
I came to this sudden realization, not about Carlin, but about the reading habits of some Americans (not really – this is called sarcasm – read it in your mother’s voice) after a recent column I wrote about politics in Washington in which I criticized – well everyone. I try.
But the uproar over the column I wrote was actually about the headline I didn’t write.
Okay, the Gettysburg address analogy is not appropriate. This is worse. You’re upset with me - assuming I wrote a headline you find inappropriate. Very few of those angry with me had read the column. They were pissed off about the headline, so much so that they threatened me. Oddly, no one who ran a story about this story reached out to ask me about it. I guess they were busy writing the story. Some of them were so busy writing the story, they didn’t check to see the original headline also had been changed.
Whatever else you may say about that headline, it may not have reflected the story very well, but the reaction to it certainly indicated it struck a deep nerve. Some, believing they were accused of violence, responded with violent threats.
Suddenly I was back in the good old days of the Trump dystopia where all news was fake, alternative facts would be available shortly (right after he makes them up), and here’s a vomit bag. Now sit back and enjoy the torture. The President will scream at you outside a little later. He’s gargling now.
I was told by several people that they didn’t read the article, “cause I don’t need to. It’s all in the headline.” It clearly wasn’t, but who am I to argue with someone who is so sure of themselves? That person, like everyone else, is one step from oblivion. How’s that for sunny?
One man got belligerent. “You called us violent? We can get violent.” I completely understand that. I witnessed that on January 6. I’m still wondering about his understanding of irony.
A lot of the trash talking generated online by those who don’t read? It seems like bad AI.
One man told me, “I’m a Christian, how do you think I should react to that?” (Again, a headline I didn’t write.)
“I don’t care” came to mind first. But I understood that a certain mindset would take that as a threat rather than what I actually said and meant. Still, I cannot be held responsible for a lack of understanding on the part of the reader. Again. Reading comprehension.
I could have replied Matthew 7:12, but I refrained my brothers and sisters. Have mercy!
I chose the path of Bill Hicks instead. “I don’t know? Forgive me?” I said. (Obviously Bill Hick’s voice.)
Some of the patter was even sillier. One post was an attempt to insult me by saying that I’m the First transgender reporter. Just absurd, and I confess I took that as a compliment.
I had amicable interactions with a few people who were actually interested in a conversation. Those who then read the column invariably came back with something upon which we could agree. That's not to say they liked all of the column. But I did get a “You’re not such a bad son of a bitch after all,” as one guy from Florida told me. I’ve been called worse by those who say they love me.
Others? Some pointed to my last name and made disparaging remarks about my Lebanese heritage. I was also called, in no particular order; Zionist filth. Antisemitic Nazi. Biden Lover. Jewish apologist. Deep state leftist. Groomer. A paid George Soros leftist. A meth-head. Communist and fascist stooge (two-competing systems). A pegboard - I had to look that one up. A Putin Puppet and a Xi puppet. I didn’t even know they made those! Can you get Xi at the same gift shop as you get the Trump and Putin puppets?
At this point I’m casting my lot with George Carlin regarding humanity. I’ve given up any vested interested in the outcome. I’m just laughing while on the ride.
You stuttering prick ya'.
Look it, (say it as Joe Pesci in Good Fellas). “Don’t stop at the headline. It did its job and got you interested in the subject. Or apparently it triggered a few of you – I don’t know, you may fold under questioning. You figure it out. Now take the next step, slowly, that’s it . . . and, no violence now, just read to get the rest of the story.”
I hope someone recognizes the Paul Harvey reference.
After you have finished reading the entire content of the article you’ve already trashed, then that would be the appropriate time to interact in a social situation with the author in a politely clear and cogent fashion – if you so choose. Feel free to ask questions, question the opinion and the facts. Offer a greeting in the same way you’d talk to your own beloved parents. (Otter’s voice again).
Greeting someone by saying “Dick-loving cocksucker go to Gaza and get killed,” is not typically the best way to start an adult conversation. . . and hopefully your parents will be here for you shortly.
“I hope your grandson dies of a painful cancer,” surprisingly, to some, is also not a socially acceptable way to begin a conversation. And stating that “I hope your wife is violently raped,” isn’t the little turn-on you think it is.
Try things like, “Hi Brian. Why do you think that? What facts are you aware of that lead you to believe as you do?” You can even jump in with a hearty, “Brian, I think you’re full of shit.” You’ll fit right in at the supper table.
The guy who said I won an award as “dumbest LibTard in America” made me laugh. Is that like an Emmy? No? Razzie? Do I get a dinner? Free Drinks? Who did the voting? When was I nominated? I missed advertising in the trades!
The best of the reporting I saw on this incident was actually at Fox News. At least someone on the staff read the piece and cherry picked what they wanted to promote in their online coverage. No harm. No foul. I wrote it. Use all you want. Just next time have the courtesy of a reach around. Give me a call. We’ll talk. We’ll nosh.
The reaction was all about the headline. The uproar began when Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (you just knew she’d be in it somehow) tweeted out a photo of the headline and my byline which ran below it. She was overwrought and at the time. She was disintegrating in a puddle of her own sweat after being unable to get her way in Congress and go forward with a censure resolution of Representative Rashida Tlaib.
It was dismissed with broad bipartisan support as both parties raised concerns about violating First Amendment rights. A Democratic effort to censure Rep. Greene, who had sponsored the Tlaib resolution, was called off in response.
Quid. Meet your pro quo.
I’ll give Greene the benefit of the doubt on this one. I’m sure she didn’t knowingly add my byline in the picture to torment me. She was too distraught over other things. She wasn’t thinking about anyone else. Some say she never does. (Read in Paul Harvey’s voice – look it up).
This isn’t unseen territory. I recognize the road. It hasn’t been paved in a while, but after navigating through it for the four years of pestilence in the Trump White House, I can honestly say it’s easier dealing with the insanity when it’s outside of the White House compound than when it is within it.
That, of course is precisely what bothers those who believe. Lord Donald should never have left. It is his rightful kingdom. Frogs will croak. Bells will ring and fair maidens will meet their spouses as they run hand in hand to milk the cows. Or something like that. Just remember, Trump won fair and square by a landslide!
The believers, apparently unable to comprehend more than 10 words at a time are better at chanting even fewer. “Lock Her UP!”
The banners are even simpler: “MAGA”. Saves money in production I bet. Smart. Pass on the savings to Trump’s pocket, very smart. (Confess; You said that in Trump’s voice while doing the hand gesture).
There is a solid core of voting Americans (across a vast spectrum of voters) who hate other Americans and don’t recognize them as such. They don’t understand what America is about, though they think themselves to be excellent Americans. There’s a smaller, but pungent sect of these humans who will shoot you if you think otherwise.
Hell, they’ll shoot you if they’re frustrated, angry, sleepy, drunk, on drugs, off drugs, incontinent, late for work, unable to find a date, picked last for kickball, or otherwise mentally compromised. Usually, it involves multiple rounds of fire – with a final pop caused by a hidden hand gun after he decided he couldn’t take it anymore. That usually coincides with the lack of ammunition for the primary weapon.
It took a Category 5 hurricane hitting Acapulco to kill as many people as we can kill with guns in the same amount of time any weekend in the United States. Hell - we’re energy efficient. We’ll barely touch the property. Less rebuilding and lower labor costs.
If there are indeed superior intelligences monitoring this planet, then there may be a reason why, if contact exists with us at all, it’s so spotty.
They open the door. They look down on the earth. “Still nuts?” They ask themselves. They raise back up. They close the door. They look back. “Yes. Still nuts.”
Imagine the alien as Bugs Bunny. It makes sense.
“Be good or mommy will make you spend time on earth.” I would not be surprised if that were told at alien breakfast tables to scare children throughout the galaxy.
So, here we have it.
We remain a raucous crowd of humanity that is questionably sentient. Oh, there are individuals who are definitely sentient, but not humanity as a whole. The overwhelming majority of humanity fares no better than an NPC in an open-world computer game. (Try that one in Carlin’s voice.)
This portends great distress. Are there answers? Can we save humanity? Can I get an amen!? Why am I suddenly channeling Richard Pryor’s preacher? Brothers and sisters? God is watching!
Me? Look, in all sincerity I would be really happy with more thorough reading and better reading comprehension.
Read more than the first 10 words.
Do yourself a favor.
Do us all a favor.
Pretty please. If that helps.
And then afterward if you want to tell me it was the worst piece of crap you’ve ever read – good for you.
At least you read it.