Thursday, January 16, 2020

Afflict The Comfortable

 One of the more re-used aphorisms about "newspapers" or media in general states that it "...comforts the afflicted, afflicts the comfortable,..." It is one of my favorite twistings of language, which I believe I first encountered in "Inherit The Wind". How I wish the media still saw this as their mandate, instead of searching for and forcing sound bites. If only we could get back to the place where news was a loss leader. When News divisions didn't need to make a profit, we all profited.

Chicago humorist Finley Peter Dunne wrote a popular syndicated column featuring the distinctive voice of Mr. Dooley, using an Irish dialectical speech and spelling. The following appeared within a 1902 column titled “Mr. Dooley on Newspaper Publicity” Here, I've adjusted the original dialectic speech and spelling:

    "The newspaper does everything for us. It runs the police force and the banks, commands the militia, controls the legislature, baptizes the young, marries the foolish, comforts the afflicted, afflicts the comfortable, buries the dead and roasts them afterward." *

In November 1902 an Albuquerque, New Mexico newspaper printed a description of the jocular bylaws of a new secret society, which I am including for strictly geographical reasons:
    "In the line of benevolence they comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Don’t pay any old debts and let all the new ones get old as fast as they can. It is against their interest to pay principle and against their principle to pay interest."

* the original Irish dialectical quote:
"Th’ newspaper does ivrything f’r us. It runs th’ polis foorce an’ th’ banks, commands th’ milishy, conthrols th’ ligislachure, baptizes th’ young, marries th’ foolish, comforts th’ afflicted, afflicts th’ comfortable, buries th’ dead an’ roasts thim aftherward."

Source: Quote Investigator

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