DENNIS O’NEIL: Read This Column Or We’ll Shoot– Okay, We’re Lying
Let’s get the anecdotal/name dropping portion of this blather out of the way up front:
Five, maybe six years ago, I was leaving the British Broadcasting Company’s offices in Manhattan, where I’d been brainstorming a kids’ show with a producer and some writers, including Sean Kelly, who was accompanying me to Third Avenue. Sean mentioned that when he was editor of the late, lamented humor magazine, the National Lampoon, and the Lampoon shared a midtown building with my usual employer, DC Comics, he considered asking me to contribute something to his pages, but that someone told him that I wouldn’t be interested.
Now, let me take a deep breath and aver, emphatically, that I would have been delighted to have my work appear in the hippest and funniest magazine on the racks. I don’t know and don’t want to know who Sean spoke with, but it’s fair to say that this mysterious person did me a disservice with an untruth.
So yes, experience allows us to state that falsehoods, whether malicious or innocent, do affect people and events, and we can’t console ourselves by thinking they have no consequences. And they piss us off: some squiggle deep in our brains probably perceives them as threats and we want to react, we want to strike back and avenge and bring low the foe.
Not easily done and maybe not wisely done, either. I retaliate and the foe retaliates to my retaliation and there are arguments and side-choosing and and and and…
The unhealthiest part of the relevant egos, foes’ and mine, fattens on anger and vengeance and, yes, hate, and validates their existence with our sorry conflicts.
Redress by law? Hey, ever been privy to a lawsuit? There’s no guarantee of satisfaction from a process that can drag months in its wake, maybe years, and break the bank and chew up and spit out one’s life…
I’ll stop waxing metaphorical now, take another deep breath and, head bowed, admit that I have recently been on the receiving end of some brickbats that make whatever was said to Sean Kelly, decades past, seem like powder puffs. (I said I was done with metaphors, didn’t I? Sorry.)
A final deep breath and–my friends: I believe the First Amendment to be the best thing in the Constitution and I believe John Stuart Mill’s essay On Liberty should be required reading for everybody (or at least recommended reading) and I wish there was some way of reprimanding politicians and journalists and pundits when they deviate from the truth but…we pay a price for our most cherished freedoms and allowing the publication of rumors (or worse) is the ugly cost of freedom of speech.
This can be, I admit, a paltry consolation, and at the moment it is indeed feeling pretty paltry ,but it will have to serve.
- [[[On Liberty]]], by John Stuart Mill.
- [[[Saints Preserve us: Everything You Need To Know About Every Saint You’ll Ever Need]]], by Sean Kelly and Rosemary Rogers
Friday: Martha Thomases