Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Stepford Sentinel

In a prickly little screed, the Sun Sentinel editorialists write today of the St. Thomas Aquinas/ suspensions thusly: "... someone has to protect kids, and St. Thomas Aquinas High School deserves credit for stepping up."

It'd be nice if the Sentinel would explain what precisely they were protecting the kids from. All the newspaper has printed is a half-baked story that a dozen students were suspended for putting "mean" stuff on Myspace. And from this, the newspaper is calling for public schools to start punishing kids over Internet postings. How can the editorialists make such a judgement if they haven't seen the offending material? And if they have seen it, why the hell hasn't the Sentinel published it to let its readers form their own opinion? The Sentinel is not only disgracing itself, but it is insulting its readers.

Thank goodness that a teenager, on the same page as the awful editorial, brings some intelligence to the witch hunt. David Hall, who is described as a 2005 graduate of St. Thomas Aquinas, writes in a letter to the editor that the "mean" stuff was actually about teachers. "The actions taken by [Principal Tina] Jones and the rest of the administration show a massive abuse and an intrusion into the privacy and freedom of speech of individual students. How can a school continue to teach American government and preach the merits of constitutional rights if it violates them itself."

Better than anything the editorialists have done all year.

Free Ana!

In yesterday’s Miami Herald, columnist Ana Menendez called out an editor. Or at least that’s the way I read it. Y’all know Ana. An author of a couple of well-received books that harken back to her parents’ Cuba, she weaves poetry in fish wrapper. Ana brings some much-needed intellectualism in South Florida and has some fun at it, too. How can you not like the opening line in yesterday’s offering:

“Remember Piss Christ?”

Later in the same column she writes, “Ever since Thomas Paine published The Age of Reason, the modern era has been marked by tension between those who defend the idea of the sacred and those who would transgress the boundaries of the acceptable.”

That’s the kind of sentence you would have written in college if you were worth a good damn.

Here’s the part of the column that really got my attention, though: “I have been harshly criticized for poking fun at George W. Bush's intelligence. How far are my rights infringed upon when a reader asks that I be fired for this transgression? What if an editor asked me to cool it?”

Oh, so a Herald editor told Ana to lay off that war-starting, filthy rich-boosting, health-care-stealing Bush? That’s just the kind of thing the Pulp can’t abide. I wanted to know what no-good scalawaging washed-up corporate gasbag tried to put the clamps on true talent. So I asked Ana about it in an e-mail. Here’s her reply:

“As I recall I mentioned the editor as a theoretical, no? Hmm. That's as far as I'll go until my book The Inside Story comes out...I'm kidding, a little. I wish I could help you out more, but I have a policy of not expanding or explaining the columns. There's a reason they only give me 600 words and I think it best all around if I let each column speak for itself.”

So close. For a second there I thought I was going to score a Pulp exclusive. But I’m still taking that thoroughly endearing rejection as a concession that some brow-beaten mid-management mugwump gave her the ol’ slow-down on the president.

It’s all quite obvious. So, “editor,” don’t you make me come down there. Leave Ana be.

Little Bastards

Looks like it happened again. Dedicated crime reporter Andrew Marra writes in the Palm Beach Post that a 36-year-old homeless man was pummeled at a phone booth by three assailants described as "young men or teenagers." That's one reason they need to lock up the three baseball batterers in Broward for the rest of their lives. Simply as a deterrent for other punks.

Release the Tape

Speaking of vicious beatings, Carol Marbin Miller, the "Miami Herald Watchdog," does a bang-up job -- in our Story of the Day -- covering the release of a videotape showing 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson in Bay County juvenile facility. It's a powerful story that's going to explode nationally when the tape is released to the public.


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