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Some things are better left unsaid, Feb. 15, 2006

I wrote a column in the print edition Tuesday about the gun violence that has been inflicted on Suffolk in recent months. It was based on a Sunday story in the New York Times that said it’s happening everywhere, mostly because more people have guns and rather than argue with someone or try to beat them up as we used to do, now we’re just whipping out our glock and popping a couple caps in them.

Almost as an after thought, with news about Vice President Cheney shooting some dude while hunting still fresh, I made a passing mention of it. It was really more an afterthought. After putting the piece in the can, it crossed my mind it might not be appropriate, but I just couldn’t resist. Up until now, I thought Mr. Cheney was merely a menace to Americans’ civil liberties, the cause of open government and our country’s reputation in the world. But he’s much more than that.

The column got some response.

In addition to a letter to the editor raking me over the coals (you’d think I was the one who shot someone) one nice lady called and told me she has never called a newspaper in her life but that as an American, she thought my comments were offensive. I told her I was afraid that might happen and apologized to her for offending her, though in the back of my mind I wondered if she had called Jon Stewart on the Daily Show, David Letterman, Jay Leno and just about every other media outlet in the known universe that had justifiably had some fun at the vice president’s expense.

For that matter, did she call the White House, which was trying to joke the matter off yesterday morning before word came down that the victim, Harry Whittington, had suffered a heart attack after some of Cheney’s birdshot migrated to his heart?

Another lady called, said she read the column, and though that wasn’t exactly what she was calling about, she wanted the newspaper to help her with a situation with her daughter.

The 14-year-old girl is apparently a handful for the mother, frequently running away from home and otherwise causing trouble. The woman said she had called Maurv Povich four times and had not heard back from him. She had also called the police for help and all they did was arrest her for child abuse.

“I believe in corporeal punishment,” she said proudly.

I wanted to say, “Ma’am, perhaps if you did not beat the child, she might be more inclined to stay around the house,” but I thought better of it. I’m not in the personal advice business and it’s typically better in these situations to just let the person get what they have to say off their chests, particularly when they are admittedly inclined to violence.

I told her I didn’t know of anything the newspaper could do to help her, but I wished her luck with it.

Actually, it’s the kid that I hope has some luck. It sounds like she could use it.