Thursday, January 21, 2010

Kinder, Gentler Fingernail Puller Outers

I admit it. I don't read the New York Times very often, so what I'm about to lambaste may be an aberration but the fact is I never liked their headlines. They remind me of the character in "Good Morning, Vietnam" who kept telling Robin Williams, "Now, this is funny."

I had little choice but to read the Times today while I waited for the auto repair shop to complete $792 worth of work on my car, which took from 7:30 a.m. until 2:15 p.m. I wasn't going to spend $1 for the Daily News at Starbucks, heck, I wasn't even going to spend three bucks for a latte, although I did eventually do that after spending about two hours ingesting four croissants at Bon Appetit in Mahwah, N.J. It was there that the woman at the next table abandoned her Times, and I stealthily slipped over and spirited it away before another patron grabbed it.

It was one of the front page headlines that made me wonder if some of their copy editors bother to read beyond the first paragraph of an article before firing off the head. Actually, I'm guessing some overpaid idiot patted him or herself on the back for this one. It was a single-column, three line head that said: "Taliban Using/ Lighter Touch/ To Win Allies." Oh, how clever.

Now, to that first paragraph, dateline Kabul: "The Taliban have embarked on a sophisticated information war, using modern media tools as well as some old-fashioned ones, to soften their image and win favor with local Afghans. ..."

They're softening their image, all right. Cut to the second paragraph, which outlines the new rules laid down by Mullah Omar: "The dictates include bans on suicide bombings against civilians, burning down schools, or cutting off ears, lips and tongues."

Of course the author qualifies this in paragraph 3: The code ... has been spottily enforced."

Spottily my eye, as my dear ol' mum used to say.

Give me my ear back, you Taliban cur. Haven't you heard about Mullah Omar's new dictates? What? I can't hear you.

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