You-Do-It Op-Eds 

Self-gratification for disappointed readers

Dear Bill,

My goodness, I never thought it would come to this, but as founder emeritus and president in perpetuum of the Cope's Latest Column Discussion Group, it is my duty to warn you that our members have grown pretty darn dissatisfied with your output in recent weeks. You are letting too many crucial news items slip by without commenting on them. We understand why you might think Tom Luna's diddling with the school system was worth spending five or six columns on (I've lost count, to tell you the truth), but there is more than just Tom Luna's diddling going on, and they are deserving of attention, none of which they are getting from you. For instance, how can you not have commented on Gov. C. L. "Butch" Otter's statement about how a floating golf hole in Coeur d'Alene is worth more than our whole Frank Church Wilderness Area?

Guns on college campuses? Is that not worth a column? Unleashed dogs in our city parks? Japanese radiation on our thyroids? Good? Bad? Or what?

What I am trying to say is, you are the closest thing to Rachel Maddow we have here in Boise, and we count on you to write what we think we are thinking. So c'mon, Bill. Get your head out of Tom Luna Land and move on.

Your No. 1 Fan,

Anonymous

My dear old pal Anon,

I am so, so sorry to have put you in the position of having to scold me for my news negligence. I admit, I have been undeniably preoccupied with grim visions of what a mediocre, mercenary man such as Luna can do to generations of Idaho school children.

However, you are entirely right; there are more comment-worthy events going on right now than, as the saying goes, you can shake a stick at. It generally happens about this time of year, when Idaho's squawky legislative birds are all roosting under one roof, spewing all their pent-up crap over anyone who will listen. But this year is extraordinary, what with the tea bagger victories of last November having dumped so many high-decibel/low-substance specimens into governors' mansions and state legislatures, not to mention the trashy tide that rolled into Congress.

The truth is, I am overwhelmed. In such an environment, when something incredibly dumb is coming out of the Legislature almost daily, there is simply not enough of me to go around. Even in calmer times, it is an inherent drawback to being the only local opinionist for the only local alternative newspaper.

Yet I agree that the examples you cited, and many more, deserve an opinion. Therefore, seeing as how I don't have the wherewithal to be everywhere at once, I am passing out commentary start-up kits, designed for those who want their opinions known but are usually content to let someone else do the work of expressing those opinions.

As anyone who has struggled with a school theme or a letter to the editor knows, the hardest part of writing anything is in how to get started, yes? For example, in the matter of our governor and the floating golf hole, it is not enough simply to think Butch is a fool for saying what he said. You have to enunciate why you think he's a fool, then support your reasoning without sounding too foolish yourself. (Notice: If this topic is a start-up kit anyone would care to check out, I will include a suggestion: Since Rocky Barker of the Idaho Statesman has already proven Otter wrong on the fiscal side of this matter, you might want to expand upon how Otter's dismissive attitude toward the grandest wilderness in the Lower 48 exposes a certain spiritual bankruptcy in our governor, as well as a ... what we might call ... a "loosey-goosey" attitude with the factual nature of what comes out of his mouth. If you still find yourself a few hundred words shy of a column, you could pad it out with the irony of how a man who has spent his life pretending to be a cowboy would, in the end, prefer our state be developed into a string of gimmicky roadside attractions than be left alone in its natural Western wonder.)

Also available is a starter kit for the guns-on-campus bill, in which I recommend the commentator pursue either (or both) of the following streams of thought: A) That the family (or families) of any (or all) student (students) gunned down as a result of the Legislature's enabling of excitable, disturbed or drunken persons to tote firearms around school property be entitled to bring criminal and/or civil charges against the sponsors of the legislation, as well as every lawmaker who voted for it, on the grounds of aiding and abetting in murder and mayhem; B) That if the self-defense argument trumps every other consideration as these gun loons would have us believe, then anyone so inclined should be allowed to carry a gun into the Capitol and observe the Legislature in action from the gallery above, and if said person is challenged by law enforcement officers, that person should insist he has the right to self-defense in case some crazy sonofabitch is sitting there in the gallery with him and that S.O.B. starts shooting the place up because he's disgruntled over something happening below.

More kits will become available as I get around to assembling them. But from the preceding examples, you can see how simple it would be to create your own opinions. Just mix the ingredients I provide into another 1,000 words or so, and voila! Instant column! Be forewarned, though: The kits do not come with a publisher included.

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