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  • December 17, 2014

The Tangential Thinker - Ladue News: Tangential Thinker

The Tangential Thinker

You Can Talk, You Can Bicker

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Posted: Thursday, May 21, 2009 12:00 am

So a couple of weeks ago Ladue News printed a letter from a reader well, a former reader, who wrote to inform the editorial staff that he will no longer be reading Ladue News, as he does not find me funny. You know what? Good for you. You have an opinion, and you expressed it. Not everyone finds the same stuff funny, how else does Dane Cook sell tickets? I find David Sedaris hilarious. Augusten Burroughs, not so much. I think Dennis Miller is awesome. Larry the Cable Guy, not. That’s my opinion. Anyway, it’s a far cry from an e-mail I received last week regarding one of the questions on the ‘Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader’ quiz I wrote.

    The e-mail, in response to my answer that there are FIVE oceans, simply read: “There are four oceans, you stupid [two-word expletive beginning with the letters ‘f’ and ‘c.’]” And it was all in caps, with a dozen or so exclamation points following. I have to say, I was offended. There is one word in that tirade that I simply cannot abide, and it’s the worst name I have ever been called.

    I am, of course, referring to the word ‘stupid.’ People can disagree about whether or not someone is funny; stupidity, on the other hand, is a matter of fact. I may not be John Nash, but I’m no dummy, either (I have an Ivy League diploma, a JD from a top 10 law school, and a misfit bunch of Burroughs friends to prove it).

    Moreover, is it me or does that little note seem a tad vitriolic for a response to a grammar school quiz? I once made a typo that inadvertently spelled a racial slur, and that didn’t elicit responses as angry! What’s more, the answer on the quiz happens to be correct. A simple Google search will confirm there are, indeed, five oceans on planet Earth: Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Arctic, and Antarctic, or Southern Ocean. The latter was officially designated an ocean by the International Hydrographic Organization in 2000, which was part of the point of the quiz. Just as Pluto is no longer considered a planet, other things kids are learning can be very different from what we learned. Don’t even get me started on new math.

    I always appreciate feedback, not anonymous name-calling, but feedback, even from readers who disagree. Wasn’t it Voltaire who said, “I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it?” Thanks for reading. 

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