Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Taking sides really misses the point

by John Halverson

July 10, 2014

I made a lot of new friends last week.
And probably lost just as many.
A couple months ago some of my new friends thought I was an idiot and an egomaniac. That’s because I’d written about one of their friends and they didn’t like it.
Now they like me and think I’m smarter than all get out.
My new enemies liked me a month ago when I wrote about their enemies.
They thought I was smart then.
But now they think I’m really stupid. And maybe a little evil.
I’d like to think I’m pretty much the same.
I still pay more than my share of parking tickets — putting $24 to $36 in the city coffers every week.
I still look pretty much the same, though I did get a haircut in between my being smart and becoming stupid — or between when I was stupid and became smart, depending on whose side you’re on.
My kids still like me. Apparently they don’t know how much I’ve changed over the last few weeks.
One new-found enemy, who by all accounts liked me the week before, cancelled his subscription and wanted all his money back. We accommodated of course. No reason to force someone to read all my stupid columns. I hope someone alerts him when I get smart again.
One person, who a month ago, said we’d only written one good story since 2009 liked the column I wrote last week. So I guess the score is now two good stories vs. 4,657 bad ones give or take. At least we’re catching up.
Someone called me last week and complimented me on my last column.
But she was upset because I am “too fair to the wrong side.”
I had a hard time getting my head around that.
I’m sure a lot of people wonder whose side I’m on.
Those people who think I was on their side last week, might be surprised when I’m not the next.
Or vice-versa — depending on whose side you’re on.
I’d like to think that there’s no such thing as one side that’s always right or always wrong.
I’ve criticized the contrarians in town from time to time, but I think they’ve been right at other times.
I’ve supported the city council against wild accusations but, two weeks ago, challenged them to do better when some of the claims against them proved valid.
I’m not immune from being wrong either — not by a long shot.
Just ask my girlfriend and my kids or those I work with or my ex-wife or that man behind the beard in the picture that accompanies this column.
A few months ago I wrote a column where I used the word “widdled” when I meant “whittled.” There’s a world of difference that goes far beyond a few letters.
On another paper I misspelled “credible” in an editorial about credibility.
So I hope everyone who reads what I have to say is also willing to examine it, shake it a little, and make up their own mind.
And if you disagree — more power to you. Write us a letter to the editor. Include your name and we’ll print it.
A newspaper should be full of contrary opinions so the readers can make up their own minds.
My opinions on the good guys and the bad guys hasn’t changed much because I think they’re interchangeable and only a select few of us are always bad and none of us are always good.
I just don’t believe that righteousness comes in neat little packages that can be gift wrapped and put under the contrarian tree or the city council tree or the Republican tree or the Democratic one.
We live at a time when we seek easy answers, easy compartments where we can place our ideology and then not have to think anymore.
The fact is life and politics and government of all sides is a lot more complicated than that.
We just like to simplify it because life is easier that way. But it’s a short-sighted way to live or to govern.
The fact is that no one has a monopoly on being smart or dumb or right or wrong.
Whose side am I on?
The answer is easy.
I’m on your side.
Until I’m not anymore.

Halverson is editor and general manager of the Regional News.