HOWLS! Opinion & Ignorance.

The January 28th Philadelphia Inquirer sports section has the normal fare – will McNabb stay or will he go, trade rumors surrounding Andre Iguodala, etc. Basically, what one would expect. That is, until John Gonzalez’s column.

Gonzo (above, center), as he is referred while Hunter S. Thompson snarls from the Great Beyond, structured his column as a wish list of people in sports he would like to Tase. The idea for the column apparently came to him after this weekend, when a fan was given the Taser treatment before the AFC Championship for unruly behavior.

According to Gonzo, “Tasing someone is always funny. That’s true and indisputable.” So he chose Tasing as the structure for his column, which would be fine, were I reading his blog, or listening to his radio show.

But I’m not. I’m reading The Philadelphia Inquirer, which has seen fit to make Gonzo the centerpiece of Page 2, the Sports ‘Wit section. To be fair, Gonzo isn’t working a beat, and it would appear as though The Inquirer hopes he will appeal to a younger audience.

And if that’s the goal, power to them (even if it often seems a bit below the paper). But a wish list of people you want to see Tased, joke or not? A column that offers nothing more than your dislike of Brett Favre drama, Jerry Jones and the Mets?

Come on.

At best, it is a contrived piece that uses the silly jest of Tasing another person as its structure. At worst, it is a juvenile and unoriginal piece that lacks any content beyond those figures in sports whom Gonzo deplores.

I’m all for creativity in writing, and I certainly don’t wish to be puritanical. But Gonzo’s piece never resembled anything journalistic. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an ax to grind in case somebody tries to Tase me.

– Timothy Rapp

• Dana DiFilippo at the Daily News wrote what was supposed to be a follow-up to last week’s story about the Jewish teen who was mistaken for a terrorist bomber when he carried his tefillin onto a US Air flight.

What she turned out was an article so flippant and offensive to readers, it should have been pulled by Wendy Warren at philly.com.  Once it was determined that there was no bomb, and this was a non-story, DiFilippo still needed a story, so she decided to create one out of what she calls the “ignorance” of most people – ignorance of what exactly a tefillin is.

I get what she was trying to do; she’s correct in that most people don’t know what a tefillin is, and I don’t fault the flight attendant for clearly following orders by reporting what he or she thought was a suspicious box. In fact, Rabbi Shira Stutman, director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia’s Center for Jewish Life and Learning, basically says as much in the story.

And even after that, DiFilippo still tries to sell her story by making her readers out to be uncultured, uneducated rubes.  Starting your article with “Most people don’t know teflin from Tupperware” sounds a lot like a saying my grandmother (and I’m sure many others in her generation) used to say: “He/she doesn’t know shit from shineola.”

Had DiFilippo decided to write the article in a different tone, if she had perhaps taken this incident and used it as an example of why it pays to be aware of other cultures and religions, it would have been a much better article.

– Renee Cree

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