There is a point at which serious journalism descends into pettifoggery. That point is reached when critics, betraying a lamentable want of bad taste, take something seriously that was intended in a humorous vein. One doesn’t shed tears at a joke or laugh raucously at a tragedy – not without getting thrown out of the theater.
Kevin Rennie is a fine journalist when he takes seriously serious points and laughs with the rest of us at the foibles of politicians who, especially in Connecticut, tend to take themselves a wee bit too seriously, a professional hazard of almost all supermen, most of whom, at least in Connecticut, are professional Democratic politicians.
Mayor Erin Stewart of New Britain is NOT one of these. And one has only to look at some of the pictures of her displayed in the Hartford Courant beside the latest effusions of Mr. Rennie – an oh so serious review of Ms. Stewart’s Fourth of July scarf – to understand that Ms. Stewart does not take herself quite as seriously as Mr. Rennie.
On the Fourth of July, Ms. Stewart “wrapped herself in the flag,” actually a flag-patterned Riverberry scarf, and sent the Instagram to some close friends. Mr. Rennie was not one of these, and he took umbrage.
Five days after the Fourth of July and one day after Mr. Rennie’s twelve word commentary on Ms. Stewart’s scarf selection appeared on his blog, the Hartford Courant ran a eleven paragraph story on Mr. Rennie’s commentary, “New Britain Mayor Faces Criticism Over Social Media Posts.”
The story was accompanied with a side bar showing eighteen pictures of Ms. Stewart. Of the eighteen pictures, there are only two that do not show Ms. Stewart laughing raucously. She likes to have fun – even to poke fun at herself. One picture shows Ms. Stewart wearing a Dr. Seuss “Cat In Hat” red and white floppy top hat while reading to students Dr. Seuss’ “Oh, The Places You’ll Go.”
The students appear to be having more fun than the dour Mr. Rennie, who commented on Ms. Stewart’s scarf selection, “Poor New Britain. This may not be what they expected last November." One can only imagine what the citizens of New Britain might think of Ms. Stewart’s taste in floppy red and white hats. Very likely, they will get the joke and wonder why the Courant has spilled so much humorless ink over what appears to be a mayor poking fun at herself by “wrapping herself in the flag.”
Mr. Rennie and the Courant, both suffering from humor deficiency, don’t.