“How oddly fascinating, silly and fun.”
That was my reaction to a recent, “California Section” front-page article in the Los Angeles Times.
(Though they were other reactions.) (Making me feel less guilty for appropriating three adjectives for myself.)
I am happily used to discovering – to my delight and amazement – reportorial unusualities included in the periodicals of the various places I am visiting – the Michigan City “Police Report”, leading with the unauthorized pilfering of unsecured garden hose, or last summer’s London article about a hawk named Rufus, hired to keep overhead pigeons from pooping on “Center Court” at Wimbledon.
By contrast, my hometown newspaper covers the serious business of rampant crime and legislative corruption. None of it silly, fascinating, or fun.
Imagine my surprise then to find an uncharacteristic inclusion I could really sink my morning smile into.
(Although other readers were irate.)
The story-in-question began thusly:
“A teacher who recounted how a Senior Aide to the President ate glue as a third grader has been pulled from her classroom.”
That’sfascinating, isn’t it? And also silly and fun?
(Though reactions angrily varied.)
Here’s what, the Los Angeles Times reported, had happened.
In an article posted in the Hollywood Reporter, a 72 year-old Santa Monica third grade teacher had apparently first compared her former 8 year-old student to the congenitally messy character from Peanuts, “Pigpen”, and had then proceeded to reveal:
“He would pour glue on his arm, let it dry, peel it off and then eat it.”
And now, he’s a Senior Advisor to Trump.
Two determinable factoids. No inevitable judgment.
Which did not avoid inevitable judgments.
(Not discounting that my “No inevitable judgments” is itself an “inevitable judgment.” As is “harmless atrocity.” You see how challenging it is to write without “inevitably” taking sides. Even a trained professional like myself is not immune to the difficulty.)
Okay. Here come the inevitable outraged reaction to this – to some, though I shall leave you to decide for yourselves – “partisan revelation.”
The identifying of the 72 year-old third grade teacher as a “Registered Democrat” – which, assiduous “digging” (in “Facebook”) revealed, “supports causes associated with liberals and progressives, such as gun control” – opened the door to virulent Republican backlash.
“What kind of teacher goes to an entertainment newspaper with gossip about an eight year-old boy? … What kind of human being does that?” (“The Washington Examiner.”)
Yet another measured response:
“This is nothing short of character assassination.” (“The Forward.”)
Apparently, an uncrossable “line” had been breached. You can be accused of alleged child molestation or walking in on teenage girls changing their clothes during a Beauty Contest (because you own the pageant), and that’s just “Locker room banter.” But breaking the sacrosanct “Teacher-Student Confidentiality” concerning a third grader, habitually wolfing down glue?
Some things are simply unpardonable!
Being scrupulously “fair and balanced” in these matters, I do admit to a troubling concern that no Pulitzer-hungry reporter investigated whether that senior Trump government official eats glue today. This seems like something the American People would want to know. But, curiously, no one has assiduously followed up.
Are we looking at an addictive, glue-eating “cover-up” here?
I’m just asking…
For her part, the veteran teacher has been placed on “home assignment”, while authorities investigate whether she complied with “applicable laws and district policies.” Santa Monica school board officials will have to ultimately adjudicate whether a childhood revelation of “Chronic Mucilage Consumption” qualifies as punishably “spilling the beans.”
In this hotly contentious era, it is difficult to be truly impartial about anything.
But to me, notwithstanding the adversarial hubbub, this situation is ultimately,
“Much a-glue about nothing.”
Though it makes for enjoyable reportage.