I love the opinion section of a newspaper. It’s not necessarily that I find the submissions massively insightful or incendiary. Well, sometimes. But what really tickles my dopamine receptors is that someone was so furious, so livid, and so darned worked up over a political issue that theyâ€¦ sat down in a chair and wrote an essay about it. Then mailed it to the Los Angeles Times.
It seems retarded and classy at the same time.
My type of person.
I wonder, did they feel satisfaction the second they clicked send on g-mail? Or was it handwritten (oh my god) and mailed with a postage stamp? Were they excited to get their customer complaint card pinned to the wall, so much so that they bragged to their friends?
I imagine, at first, that the author of an opinion letter is quite stoked when they see their name in flashing lights on page A34, next to the cartoon of Obama pondering an oil barrel shaped like Gadhafi. Heh, heh, heh, this will show those oil companies! But how long can that feeling last? The followups to their piece, if any, are generally very mixed. Those oil companies allow you to drive around in your car, you bastard!
What does our hypothetical opinion-writer do then? Write another essay? Seems a little excessive. It’s like those people who play chess through mail correspondence. How much time do you have on your hands? Where does it all end?
There’s so much arguing to do, and so little time.
I’ve studied revenge extensively. And if I’ve learned anything from Kill Bill pt 2, Oldboy, and Se7en, it’s that no matter how much blood you draw, it doesn’t repair the underlying traumatic issue. Is it the same with ink and the opinion column?
I’ve decided to find out by writing an opinion letter of my own.
Context: South Carolina is considering a bill that would allow police to slap $150 tickets on motorists caught driving less than 10 mph over the limit –10 times the current minimum — but let them skip reporting the tickets to shield low-speed offenders from higher insurance premiumsâ€¦ Money would be split between the state and the city issuing the ticketâ€¦ South Carolina faces an $800 million-plus budget shortfall.
Dear Opinion Column,
[SARCASTIC, SPECIOUS ATTACK OF SERIOUS ISSUE]
South Carolina has an interesting solution to the budget problem. Get all tattle tale on the electorate’s ass. Really put some nitpicking into standard practice. What suicidal state senator is going to put his name at the bottom of that bill? How could they justify it to themselves and the voters?
I can hear it now.
“I voted for that bill. I solved the budget crisis.”
No you didn’t, you snake. A hundred thousand speeding drivers solved the budget crisis. Elect them to the senate.
[FAR-FETCHED ANTAGONISTIC CLAIM THAT FAILS TO GRASP SITUATION]:
As a state government, they are basically admitting that their law (the speed limit) is so stupid and outdated that everyone is breaking it. Their reaction is not to change the law, but to increase the penalties. They may believe you cannot drive safely above 65mph. But plenty of people seem to disagree.
Or maybe they don’t believe the spirit of the law is important. I doubt they care about the lettering of it either, unless it costs a benji and a Garfield (the 50 obv, come on).
Because they sorta know what they’re doing is dumb, but doing it anyway.
[HEAVILY VEILED LITERARY ANALOGY WITH CONGRUENT THEMES]:
Like the time I walked in on my 20 year old roommate as he placed our cat in the desk chair and then spun the seat violently, while videotaping with his other hand. I stood and watched as the cat clung to the back of the chair at a completely horizontal angle, and it reminded me of the spinning ride at Knott’s Berry Farm where it goes so fast you actually stick to the side of the wall. My roommate noticed me staring from the door. He looked at me, shrugged, and spun the chair faster.
[CORNY “SUM IT ALL UP MOMENT” WHICH CLEVERLY TIES TO THE ARTICLE’S MAIN ISSUE]:
Inertia, an imaginary force — and I wonder if Tom (the cat) understood this.
I mean, the vehicle is the one going faster, not he occupant. Maybe we should fine the car.
[RIDICULOUS COUNTER-PROPOSAL EVEN LESS THOUGHT OUT THAN THE ONE BEING CRITICIZED]:
They even acknowledge how shitty what they’re doing is — we’ll fine you, but don’t worry, it’ll be just between us, so your insurance doesn’t go upâ€¦ you’re going to need that cash for other things wink winkâ€¦ If a cop pulled me over for doing 67mph in a 65mph zone and gave me a $150 ticket, I would invite him to sit in the passenger seat and watch me drive around for 20 minutes at 2 to 9 mph over the speed limit whenever I felt I could handle the velocity. I would then ask him, honestly, if he thought I was being unsafe. If he thought I was being unsafe, how unsafe? On a scale of 0 to 150.
If he did not comply, I’d ask him if he knew what inertia was.
But in reality I would just tell him he was kind of being a douchebag and then take my 150$ ticket because there’d be nothing more I could do about it.
I am passionate about this issue.
It is a line they should not cross.
[ESTABLISHMENT OF MORAL HIGHGROUND WITH NAMECALLING]:
Because if you decide that you’re going to harshly enforce the pure letter of the law as opposed to the spirit of it, then you are a thieving robot. And if you’re blatantly robbing people, why stop there? They should ask the cops to start stealing the change out of the coin holder while they’re at it. Do you have any idea how much change is really in there? I paid my gas bill in rolls of pennies, dimes, and nickels last month.
[REFERENCES PROVIDED IN ORDER TO TRICK AUDIENCE INTO BELIEVING THE SOURCE WAS READ ALL THE WAY THROUGH, UNSPOKEN AGREEMENT THAT AUDIENCE WILL NOT READ IT ALL THE WAY THROUGH EITHER]:
[FINAL CHANCE TO REALLY HAMMER HOME THE BASICS]:
This is my opinion. It is better than the opinions of those who have studied politics at a graduate level for years before they were hired by several hundred thousand voters. If you disagree with me, it is due to some misunderstanding on your part and not mine.
Sigh. I did feel vindicated for a second. Then I went back to edit it. After a few passes, I was adding things just to make fun of myself, and I could tell I was beginning to drift. I got over it.
I found myself ready to write another letter, this one to myself.
It’s been a tough day. You should maybe roll a spliff and leave the writing for another time. This opinion of yours is garbage.
Everyone already knows politics is stupid. It’s not going to get any less stupid. Getting all intense about it just makes it worse. You’re like the athiest and the Christian mudwrestling in the comments section of the huffington postâ€¦ no one is going to win, and no one is going to come out clean. Stop being a downer.
Often when looking at a mass of things for sale, he would say to himself, ‘How many things I have no need of!”
Anyway, I have heard good things about Boardwalk Empire. Maybe you could watch that? Heard Buschemi’s kinda just okay but if you stick with it it’s alright.
That one, I feel, is much more fit to stand the test of time and counter-opinion. Go ahead, try to argue with it. Then go back and read my response. It still fits. It may be my defacto response for every political issue. In fact, it might be the perfect opinion letter.