Nationally syndicated cartoonist Ted Rall wasn't talking about the Fort Worth Star-Telegram when he recently said, "Daily newspapers [are] totally wussified," but he might as well have been. Rall made the point that "Daily newspapers are really chickenshit. They live in dire fear of cancellations by the 83-year-old lady down the street who gets pissed off by a nasty word in a cartoon or article." Gotta admit, the kid knows of what he speaks. As an example, let's take a recent Star-T imbroglio. According to a column by Star-T Reader Advocate (I'm not making this up; that's his title) Lance Murray, a Fort Worth reader was upset by a beer column that appeared in the Food section. The column was ostensibly on a Belgian ale, but it really was an excuse for jokes about other nationalities:
"It's good to remember that beer is representative of a culture," the column read. "The Germans, for instance, brew up aggressive beverages that invade the tongue and make it snap to attention. Ach du lieber!
"...Now take Belgium, please...Belgians make the French seem really macho, so it's only natural that they would be a major producer of fruity ales."
So Murray ran a column saying that, even though "I've got a good sense of humor," the column offended him. The writer, the food editor, a copy editor, and the deputy features editor were then all publicly flogged for allowing this heinous thing to run, and each more or less apologized. For, as the Reader Advocate put it, "[The of-Belgian-descent reader] questioned how long it would take the newspaper to re-earn the trust of his son, whose reaction to the column was to question our reliability. It may take a while, and, frankly, it should."
Darn right. Let me then, in the interest of restoring this Belgian kid's faith in the media, address him directly:
Kid, I'm sorry that column wasn't funny. Which is amazing, since mocking Belgians is hysterical.
See, yours is a funny country. It's bordered by France, first of all, and the Frogs are always good for a laugh. Comedy gold. Second, you have cities named Liege, Charleroi, and Antwerp, which sound like names off the playbill for a touring production of Cats. Your dialects are Flemish and Walloon, for heaven's sake. Your currency is the francl. The Krauts invaded you not once, but twice before we helped save your whiny, fruity-ale makin' butts in World War II. The only thing funnier than Belgium is a Belgian kid crying about someone making fun of Belgium.
No need to thank me. Just doin' my job.
The news that KSCS-FM (96.3) has decided it won't play the Dixie Chicks' song "Goodbye Earl" -- about women who conspire to kill an abusive husband -- leads to an obvious question: KSCS is still on the air?...(Relatively) new Metro columnist Jacquielynn Floyd is one of the few good columnar moves The Dallas Morning News has made (note: my co-workers think I'm nuts) since it hired Frank Luksa a decade ago. She is a good writer (and not just because she knows that a "sentence" and a "paragraph" are not the same thing), can make even the most innocuous topics somewhat interesting, and doesn't mind throwing in a literary reference every once in a while. Of course, it would be better if she moved to the Today section, since the paper won't let its Metro columnists actually break news. After that, if the DMN would give Gerry Fraley a sports column, I might resubscribe...My old paper, The Met, turns six years old this week. I plan to write a column about that in two weeks (This media column thing will be bi-weekly because, hey, do you know what I do? I'm busy.) I wanted to take this opportunity, though, to acknowledge that, yes, I was the founding editor of The Met, but that doesn't mean you need to keep calling and yelling "Traitor!" in the phone before you hang up. And you know who you are.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Observer's biggest stories.