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  • All Kidding Aside – Can The Jokes

    It is not clear how much time must pass before it is OK to joke about a tragedy.  70 years?  It may still be too soon to do Pearl Harbor bombing jokes. But clearly, one week is not enough.

    Stacey Campfield, a Tennessee State Senator, posted a photo, like the one below, of a pressure cooker labeled “Assault Pressure Cooker.” The photo also included arrows pointing to features line a “muzzle break thingy that goes ‘up'” and a “tactical pistol grip.”

    Campfield’s point, or so he says, was to mock the comments of gun control advocates after the Sandy Hook shootings.

    ABCNews.com says Campfield refuses to apologize and says he was making fun of false double standards — not the very real deaths caused in Boston by genuine pressure cookers filled with explosives.

    If you have a policy point to make after a tragedy – you can do so in a serious fashion.  But you are likely to alienate far more  people than you will persuade if you appear to be making light of a very dark subject.

    Campfield wasn’t the only politician who lost sight of the fact that jokes of any kind may not go over too well in certain circumstances.

    The Weekly Standard reported today that Vice President Biden, speaking at a memorial service for murdered MIT policeman Sean Collier today decided to get a little folksy.

    In his remarks Biden said: “One of my favorite poets is Seamus Heaney.” Adding “I know the congressman thinks I always quote Irish poets because I’m Irish. That’s not the reason I do it. I quote Irish poets because they’re the best poets and that’s the reason why,” Biden said to nervous laughter.  “And the Collier family knows that, right?” Biden continued, “But all kidding aside…”

    There will be people who think Biden’s attempt at humor was fine — just an effort to lighten the mood. And there are, no doubt, people who think Campfield’s photo makes a legitimate point.  But knowing that there will be a large number of folks who cringe at the comments of both men — why annoy them now?

  • Memphis TV Wrestle-Mania

    WPTY-TV Memphis

    A local Memphis TV station cameraman was taking video of some art work on a city owned car inspection station.  Charles Weaver, a municipal employee didn’t like it.  Weaver’s chosen method of discouraging photography is not one we recommend.  He put the cameraman in a headlock and threw him to the ground.  You can see the report below.

    Government employees will occasionally do stupid stuff. Like trying to block a  camera by holding up your city employee badge as seen below.

    But what is most amazing, in this case, is that after the incident the city’s mayor and his spokesperson ran away from a reporter seeking comment. How hard would it have been for them to express regret that the incident occurred and promise a full investigation?

    Instead — they look like they are more concerned about annoying car inspection station employees — than they are the local media.

  • Cold Fusion Confusion

    “Cold fusion” is a hypothetical way of generating power without heat.  A Defense Intelligence Agency analyst just discovered how to generate heat without shedding any light.

    Add caption

    It seems Beverly Barnhart, an analyst with DIA contacted a publication called “New Energy Times” recently to demand they remove from their website material from a news story in which they quoted an internal email from Barnhart touting an upcoming Naval Research Laboratory colloquium on cold fusion.

    Apparently Barnhart was unhappy that she was cited in the report since she claims she was simply passing along an email to colleagues. We don’t know if she knows much about “cold fusion” but she clearly doesn’t know anything about cold calling reporters.

    The recipient of her call, Steven Krivit, announced that he was recording her complaint and has placed that recording on New Energy Times’ website.

    Barnhart threatened to sic DIA’s public affairs and legal departments on the publication if they didn’t immediately respond to her demands.  Hardly the kind of threat that will strike fear in the hearts of journalists trading in unclassified tidbits.

    She demanded to know who had passed her email to the publication — a request certain to be denied.

    The best course for Barnhart would probably have been to just ignore the matter. But if she really felt it necessary to take some action, she should have asked someone from DIA public affairs to contact the publication — in a non-threatening manner — and had them explain that the event is not open to the public and that Ms. Barnhart’s internal email was not intended as a public announcement and offering a statement from public affairs about the colloquium which might be substituted for her words on New Energy Times’ website.

    Instead she managed to put the spotlight on herself in a very unflattering way and suggested that the publication was violating some law or regulation by publishing a government officials’s name.