I don’t know.

I had a personal to-do last Friday at work when the publisher told me that he couldn’t allow my column to run. I was all, like, huh? Looking like a deer in the headlights. B-b-bu-but why? (Knowing full-well why, but disagreeing and still feeling a little trepidatious … even though my dictionary says that isn’t a word.)

Boss man invited me into his office to let me try to convince him otherwise. Yeah, we have a history of me arguing points, and yeah, of course I jumped at the opportunity. He’d tipped his hand by telling me I had a chance to convince him. I totally knew he wanted me to talk him out of it.

So what was the big deal about? Prostitution.

His argument? Which he did preface with, “I think you’re funny, and I’m not offended personally, but …” 1) Apparently prostitution isn’t a topic fit for normal family entertainment, and 2) He’s new to the area and small towns in rural states in general so worried that the surprising local election wins of ultra-conservative, right-wing candidates indicated that area folks would not be receptive to said topic. And, though he never did say specifically during our conversation, I think he was worried as much or more about the way in which I expressed views on the topic as he was about said topic itself.

But I countered with 1) It’s not like I’m advocating prostitution [True, but still …]. OK, fine, there’s 2) My regular readers will not be shocked by this article … probably. [But I’m not worried about your regular readers, and you’ve never written a column like this before]. Oh but, 3) I did write about the moose poop guy [Moose poop is nothing like this.] doing everything under the sun I could to all but say “shit.” And there was the drunken breastfeeding woman [Breastfeeding’s nothing—] in which I said: “How drunk do you have to be to feed a breast?” [ …] “Hope she didn’t use a fork.” [ … (his face clearly indicated that he wanted a do-over on OKing that one.] But still [I don’t know, I’m not convinced. I don’t want to have to be answering a bunch of angry letters … .] so 4) We printed three or four news articles in the regular part of the paper about the brouhaha over proposed changes to the sex-ed program in Helena that used a lot more graphic and disconcerting language than I used. Phrases like “gay love,” “oral sex,” “vagina,” “anal penetration” … . At which point he relented, probably just to make me shut up.

Nevertheless, props to the boss for ending with a chuckle and saying: “But if I get any angry letters, you’re writing the replies.”

So then I worried all weekend that someone was going to call in or write a complaint. Not that I mind so much that someone complains, I just really didn’t want to ruin my office cred. It would totally count against me in any future arguments. “Yeah,” he’d say, “but remember how wrong you were about the prostitution?” And that would be the end of the discussion. It was nerve-wracking.

I wanted to share the column here, but also wanted to give it a true test in the public without skewing opinion with this backstory, so held it until now. The column hasn’t generated a complaint so far, though this blog entry will probably cause some ripple in the cosmic pool of irony, inspiring a letter of complaint tomorrow. If it happens, I guess I’ll follow through with my plan: Argue to have the complaint printed on the opinion page to see if it causes any other reactions. No that’s not an evil plan, I’m just fascinated by the newspaper-community interaction process.

In the meantime, you can find the actual column word-for-word via the “Write On” page link at the top of this page. (And I emphasize TOP! for those of you who are like my husband and can’t grasp my words either through lack of understanding, attention, or belief that one must use the link at the TOP! not the one on the left side.)

FTB, For the Blog! at pam(at)viewfromthenorth40.com

Advertisements