One of Steve Allen’s regular comedy routines was reading letters to the editor the way he imagined the writers wrote them: angry. He’d sit at his desk wearing an upturned fedora with a press card in the band.
Allen, the original host of “The Tonight Show,” would end the bit with a punch line.
A few readers have disagreed with me over the past eight years, but not many have written angry.
A recent one, however, pointed out that I wasn’t a “real man,” that I’m a “whiner” and a “Communist.”
Based on my comments about civility and mutual respect when it came to Fourth of July fireworks, he also assumed my political affiliation.
What goes with having an opinion these days about anything except peanut butter and jelly sandwiches is a rebuttal.
Those of you who are planning to major in journalism, you need to know you can be as right as right can be and someone will think you’re wrong.
The temptation is to rebut the rebuttal. And that brings out the worst in many of us, including me.
Shut up and write?
It’s impossible to do both, unless, as I said, it’s about peanut butter and jelly. However, it’s likely that’s not even a safe topic.
I’d hear, “No, peanut butter and jam.”
“No, peanut butter and cream cheese.”
Or, “You need to be more sensitive. Some of us are allergic to peanuts.”
True or false? There was a hit record about peanut butter? True, and it’s good.
“Peanut Butter” was released by the Marathons in 1964. The history of the Marathons is “shrouded in mystery and confusion,” according to Oldies.com.
The name Marathons was a pseudonym for the Vibrations, who had a 1961 hit with “The Watusi.”
(Not to be confused with the “Wah-Watusi” by the Orlons, unless, of course, you don’t mind a little confusion.)
Some think Mr. Ed, a palomino, was fed peanut butter and his attempts to chew were meant to look like he was talking to Wilbur.
Allan “Rocky” Lane provided Mr. Ed’s voice. Lane starred in cowboy B-movies in the 1940s and 1950s, including the “Red Ryder” series.
A column about a talking horse is a lot safer than ones about the First and Second Amendments or whether masks should be mandatory.
But now that you know how they were able to get Mr. Ed to talk, some might argue animal abuse.
“Did they test Ed for peanut tolerance?”
“Mr. Ed” tested my tolerance: for inanity. There wasn’t a good joke in a carload.
Where was I?
If you think I’m wrong about expressing an opinion in 2020, give it a try. Almost anything will do.
Keep the statues or get rid of them? Allow the flags? Change mascots?
A reader informed me that her high school mascot was a Hunter, and decals depict a Hunter aiming a rifle. It’s a little reminiscent of Mark McCloskey, the St. Louis man who pointed his weapon at protesters outside his home.
McCloskey and his wife Patricia either stood their ground or overreacted. Take your pick.
Their weapons were taken away from them; sympathizers replaced them.
See? As Bob Dylan said, “You’re right from your side, I’m right from mine.”
Johnny Cash said, “The one on the left is on the right.”
And Plato said, “Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance.”
Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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