Time passes quickly in the news business. With constant deadlines marking the days and weeks, it seems that every now and then we look up and say, "Is it January already?" or "Another graduation — it was just September!"
So I was surprised to find that out of last year’s 52 weeks, I managed to write 40 columns. Some were better than others — or as some of those who responded would say, some were not good at all.
In fact, I’ve had some fairly harsh feedback from a few readers on some of my views. In some ways, it makes me feel bad, but I’m still happy to get other peoples’ insight.
It’s better when negative comments aren’t mean-spirited, but I try to think that’s just an indication of how important people think some things are.
For example, people are very passionate about animals.
When I wrote about circus animals in 2017, I surmised that it would make sense for animal trainers to take good care of their beasts, as animals such as tigers and elephants cost thousands of dollars and are the basis of the circus’ livelihood.
In the eyes of many, I was wrong. Some politely pointed me to some evidence that all is not well in circus world.
Others were less thoughtful.
"Your article SUCKED ..." wrote another.
One said he is sad his grandchildren won’t be able to be the Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus, which shut down in 2017.
Another sent a 1,300-word essay which started, "It was on a bright, starry night that the traveling circus rolled into town."
After writing "In defense of unleashed dogs," I was lambasted by readers who thought little of my views on doggie freedom.
Here’s the best response:
"I gutted through your ridiculous editorial regarding how the leash law should not apply to you and your perfectly well behaved MUTTS. Well, let me tell you that is the most pompous piece of so called words I have ever read. You are the reason there are crappy dog owners and it portrays the kind of individual you are ... I wish I could unread the nonsense you pass of as an editorial but that dog has already left the doghouse."
The following response, part of an email way too long to be a letter, was more convincing:
"I don’t believe I’ve ever responded to an article before, but this one is very personal to me. I grow very concerned when a dog is off leash. I don’t know the dog, nor the owner, and don’t want to risk any problems nor injuries for myself nor my dog. A leash minimizes my concern greatly!"
A two-part series of columns on old water parks also got a lot of feedback. I had invited readers to point out any former area swimming holes I may have left out, and ended up adding a few to the list I had compiled.
A column meant to celebrate Blossom Music Center’s 50th anniversary unveiled some long-standing complaints from the venue’s residential neighbors and may have actually got something done.
"Years ago Blossom tried to be a good neighbor," one of them wrote. "They sent a crew around to pick-up trash the next day after a concert, they would try to get local traffic through Steels Corners and Northampton Road intersection with a card in the car window, they offered a free concert on Labor Day weekend, and they sent out an yearly event calendar so you knew when the big concerts were coming so that you might plan ahead."
Shortly thereafter, the city of Cuyahoga Falls instituted a card-pass program for area residents in an attempt to help get them through traffic, but it was too late in the season to see if the program will work.
I don’t think a single column will resolve issues surrounding traffic cameras, but a lot of readers seemed to like my approach when I asked the Los Angeles Police Department’s Lt. Columbo to weigh in on the issue.
"These cameras are an insult to the locals who have to tolerate them, along with the neighboring communities who will be forced to suffer because of this new cash cow-dirty trick the mayor decided to exploit and burden us all with!" was one response.
Another writer pointed out the tragic consequences of reckless driving and would put traffic cameras everywhere. I think that’s probably inevitable, as I indicated in the column on "Skynet" in China.
I try to avoid partisan issues, such as gun control, but after the school shooting in Parkland, Fla. (when a 19-year-old killed 17 people last February), I did use one column to point out the "ironic shortcomings in gun regulation."
I concluded, "And if there is any doubt that our gun laws are insufficient, it’s the fact that a 18-year-old is considered mature enough to own an AR-15, but has to wait until he’s 21 to buy a pistol or a beer."
Yep — I think the laws aren’t tough enough. On the other hand, I’m ready to admit I don’t have all the answers.
Likewise, I believe climate change is a problem the planet should address. In this case, however, I’ve read a lot of the science and I’m ready to agree the recent hottest years on record and disappearing glaciers are not just some natural trend.
I would expect more to write in opposition to my views, but often they don’t want to be published.
For example, regarding "Plenty of people have $5 billion for a border wall," one reader didn’t get my point, which included it’s a good idea for people to get together when they decide to build walls.
"Did you write an article on all the actors and actresses that speak out on health care when they could put lots of money behind their mouths? I am shocked that the security of our country is even debated."
He didn’t want his email in the paper.
Too bad — I’m looking for some balance this new year.
Eric Marotta can be reached at 330-541-9433, or email@example.com.