Letter from the Editor

| January 16, 2014
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While I'm standing in the Kroger checkout line, the magazine headlines bring me up to date on the issues of the day: "Jessica and Justin's Marriage Crumbling!"; "OJ's Life in Danger!"; "50 Hot Sex Moves You Must Learn!"; and "Get a Great Beach Body in 30 Days!"

We are, all of us, assaulted by messaging during most of our waking hours — via billboards, radio and television, the internet, and newspapers and magazines. Most of it is trivial, mental chaff, designed to catch our attention and sell us something. And millions of people fall for it. They are sucked into caring about the problems of the rich and famous, about the quality of their "beach bodies," or about learning the mysterious sex moves that will bring them the person of their dreams.

It's difficult to separate the incessant white noise from what really matters. It's easy to get distracted, to let little things consume us. The garbage disposal backs up; the cat pees on the rug; that stupid guy in the comment thread just keeps arguing; your teenager "borrows" your phone charger. You get angry, or at least irritated. You stomp around for a few minutes, then, if you're lucky, you take a deep breath and chill. You deal with the problem. You get some perspective: Life is short. Get over it. Move on.

Two men in Florida get in an argument over texting during the previews of a movie. Popcorn gets thrown. One of the men is a "good guy with a gun," a 71-year-old Viet Nam vet, packing, no doubt, so he could help prevent a mass shooting in the theater. Unfortunately, this good guy loses his temper, pulls out his good gun, and kills the other man who, by all accounts, wasn't a bad guy, just rude.

Of course, this happened in Florida, and the victim wasn't wearing a hoodie, so the good guy could spend the rest of his days in prison — because he got irritated about someone texting in a movie theater — unless it's ruled he was merely "standing his ground." It was in Florida, after all.

It's madness.

I have a friend who got a diagnosis of stage-four cancer during the holidays. Her future is uncertain. She lives in another city and is keeping an online journal chronicling her days — the tests, the biopsies, the pain, the doctors, the hospital culture, and the fear of not seeing her children grow up. I read it, breathe deep, and take some time to send her good thoughts.

And I thank her for reminding me how important it is to pay attention to what matters — and to let the chaff blow away.

Bruce VanWyngarden
brucev@memphisflyer.com

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Comments (11)

Showing 1-11 of 11

So well said, Bruce.

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Posted by Niles4334 on 01/16/2014 at 8:47 AM

Quote:"Of course, this happened in Florida, and the victim wasn't wearing a hoodie, so the good guy could spend the rest of his days in prison — because he got irritated about someone texting in a movie theater — unless it's ruled he was merely "standing his ground." It was in Florida, after all."

Utter Hogwash.

For one, The Florida movie theater victim reportedly did not sucker punch the alleged shooter in the nose, straddle him and pound the back of his head on the theater floor. Two, Zimmerman's defense attorneys never used the "Stand Your Ground" law as a defense tactic. In fact, even the Washington District of Criminals obedient prosecuting attorney never mentioned it, either.

(Some folks might say that a few biased editorial writers have been mind-numbingly watching too much Oprah or other clueless talking heads on TV, eh?)

Finally, I couldn't help but notice that this editorial omitted one relevant fact about the Florida movie theater shooting: the arrested shooter was a retired captain from the Tampa Police Department (27 years). Was this highly relevant fact purposely omitted so local law enforcement wouldn't get too riled up?

"The only truths in newspapers are the advertisements."
- Thomas Jefferson

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Posted by Nightcrawler on 01/16/2014 at 10:02 AM

Nightcrawler on flyer.com? Damn. There goes the neighborhood.

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Posted by B on 01/16/2014 at 11:32 AM

Nice column, BV.

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Posted by B on 01/16/2014 at 11:34 AM

Nightcrawler

I am sure that if those jurors that acquitted Zimmerman knew then what they know now of his character, they would have found him guilty.

It was never about Zimmerman, it was about the, stand your ground law and it's implementation.

Now, in this recent case, you will see a different attitude of the good white citizens of Florida. They are going to try and convict this shooter and send him to jail. He says he was attacked, Zimmerman says he was attacked, what is the difference? I will let these readers and you figure that one out.

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Posted by Oldtimeplayer on 01/16/2014 at 1:48 PM

Dug that, big guy. I particularly enjoyed the part - to severely paraphrase - about the dumbass commenter that won't shut the f*ck up. That's some chaff that I really wish would blow away.

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Posted by DaveClancy on 01/16/2014 at 5:02 PM

AMEN Bruce..........unfortunately many won't understand the simple message...... Kind of like the "love God and love your neighbor" thing. It's simply to far over their heads. Some folks just have to have drama in their lives to prove their alive......

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Posted by lifespalette on 01/17/2014 at 7:20 AM

Sometimes we get so caught up with the thoughts of others that we neglect the formation of our own. Oh ish, does that mean I shouldn't be reading this?!

Seriously though, great post!

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Posted by Chris Faulkner on 01/17/2014 at 8:38 AM

Texting in a theater should be a capital crime.

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Posted by JuliusJones on 01/17/2014 at 8:43 AM

More chaff!

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Posted by oldtimer on 01/17/2014 at 9:08 AM

"Texting in a theater should be a capital crime."

In that case...street justice wins?

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Posted by GroveReb84 on 01/17/2014 at 9:48 AM
Showing 1-11 of 11

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