12-letter words & flag burnin’: Unless, of course, the whole thing is a joke.

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After many apathetic years, the letters section of the Tribune is again showing signs of becoming the entertaining, edifying spectacle it used to be during the halcyon days of “Cap” Sterling and Nola McDaniel.

Here’s an example from yesterday’s edition (note that the date, November 29, was erroneously listed as November 24 in the newspaper’s on-line archive).

Nov. 29: Reader not impressed with big words

I’d like to respond to a recent letter in the Nov. 9, 2006, edition of The Tribune referencing values.

No. 1. The lady, being from the Northeast, is trying to impress us by the use of 12-letter words? As a suggestion, if you’re writing to the average citizen, use average citizen words so that we can better understand what you are trying to say. I learned that at Penn State.

No. 2. I’m from the east and there is no question that Hoosiers and Kentuckians appreciate our past, present, future and our country’s traditional family values and our customs and our heritage better than those from the Anything Goes, It’s OK you’re OK, If it feels good do it Northeast.

Burning our flags and same sex marriage is not only against our traditions, our heritage, our customs and everything else “American,” they are also against the Bible and should be outlawed by Constitutional Amendments. Maybe you should move back to New Jersey. They’d “love” you there.

Frank Criss, Floyds Knobs

The object of Mr. Criss’s acidic lesson in value-determinant geography is the writer who previously penned this:

Nov. 9, 2006: Reader sick of values being used incorrectly

“Values, Values, Values.” I am so sick of hearing about “values.” What exactly does “values” mean? It means an abstract concept of morality. At best ambiguous, at worst, delusional.

“Hoosier values” means what? I am from New Jersey. Does that mean my “Jersey values” are better, worse or the same as “Hoosier values?” Somehow, I believe, that in some people’s eyes, they are worse.

Since, I believe that the Constitution serves to provide protection for our freedoms, the frivolity of a Constitutional Amendment to protect an institution that already allows the freedom of a man and woman to marry is ludicrous. Does that make my “values” evil?

I also don’t believe in adding a Constitutional Amendment to protect the flag from flag burning. It’s a matter of the Bill of Rights. You know the provision of freedom of speech. Like what I’m doing. Wow, I’m doing really bad in someone’s idea of “values.”

Using hot button, totally irrelevant issues to push an agenda is demagoguery. To decide for me what my “values” should be and to deride me when I don’t agree is odious.

My point is that the use and abuse of the word values is wrong and only serves to isolate people. However, since politicians are abstract, ambiguous and delusional, the word may work for them.

Karen Van Hauter, Jeffersonville.

Looking more closely, we see that Mr. Criss’s reference to “trying to impress us by the use of 12-letter words” is far funnier than he intended. The only 12-letter word to be found in Ms. Van Hauter’s letter is the noun “Constitution.” It may have seemed to him that “demagoguery” surely falls into the dreaded 12-letter classification. Properly motivated spelling bee winners know that it has only 11.

In Ms. Van Hauter’s letter, there is the adjective “Constitutional,” which has 14 letters. But wait – Holy Hypocrite, Batman! – in his response, Mr. Criss also uses the adjective “Constitutional,” and yes, it again has 14 – 14! – letters.

What’s he trying to do, impress us?

“Constitutional” must be an “average citizen” word when he uses it, but not when it is purloined by atheist pinko moral relativists.

The space and time continuum also poses certain difficulties for Mr. Criss’s, agonized, plaintive wail (I shan’t dignify it with a short, 8-letter word like “argument”), as in the case of his insistence that the Bible specifically teaches against burning an American flag that wasn’t initially sewed until 2,000 years after the Good Book was misinterpreted for the first time.

Apparently he learned these argumentation techniques in value-determinant geography while employed as a custodian at Penn State, although he is unclear on this point.

Encouragingly for the future chortle value of the Tribune’s opinion page, the November 29 missive wasn’t the first time that Mr. Criss has donned his Floyd R. Turbo hunting cap to allege, “Hoosiers and Kentuckians appreciate our past, present, future and our country’s traditional family values and our customs and our heritage better.”

He also did it on November 26, while lauding departing legislator Mike “Big Wheels” Sodrel for his win in Floyd County:

With so many Left-Wing Liberals in the district, who are unaware of our heritage, our customs, our values, our traditions and our Judeo-Christian beginnings, it looks like a brighter future for Floyd County. Yes, Sodrel lost the election, but we are apparently beginning to emerge from our dismal past when Floyd County mainly supported good ole boy Dem’s regardless of their qualifications.

That’s a fair volume of pus to ooze from one place, but I’m a glutton for punishment when it comes to the outer limits of nuttiness, so I’ll bite. This grouping of “our” – who are you speaking of, Mr. Criss?

The native born, as opposed to the infidels from New Jersey? Or maybe the properly indoctrinated ones, and not those succumbing to the dreaded virus of book learnin’?

Seems I was born and raised right here in tradition- and value-laden Floyd County. I ran in the woods, played basketball, was rejected by all known cheerleaders and watched Hee Haw. I’ve lived here in this bastion of the Judeo-Christian ethos my whole life, and today, I couldn’t disagree with you more strongly if I were Osama bin Laden, Ted Kennedy and Michael Moore, all rolled into one.

What, then, was the source of the unpatriotic, pagan, foreign contagion in my case?

Did I get it during an illicit bout of unprotected readin’?

Perhaps there can be a Constitutional (14) amendment (just 9) against that, too.

Verily, disgust is the only proper reaction. There is no populated corner of this planet that is without some measure of ignorance, and yet in no part of the civilized world is it as enduringly fashionable as right here in the good ol’ USA. Keep up the good work, Mr. Criss.

Side-splitting laughter is one fine and suitably aerobic way for me to shed pounds on my diet.

(An edited version of the preceding has been sent to the Tribune for consideration as a letter to the editor)

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