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Voice: Kofford trying to provoke thought with humor

February 01, 2001

My backwoods mother had a saying, "No one kicks a dead horse." I think of that saying every time I read a letter criticizing Bret Kofford. His detractors accuse him of name- calling, then call him worse names. They do this because they are out of sync with Bret's brand of humor.

Writing a humor column, or "trying to be funny" in any way, is a perilous venture. It can be hazardous to the humorist's health or to his well-being.

Like beauty, humor lies almost entirely in the perceptions and receptiveness of the beholder.

Worse, what seems funny one day may seem reprehensible the next, even to the same person. The mood of the beholder at any given time affects his receptivity.

Some people have no sense of humor. Like Rose Niland of "Golden Girls" fame, they take everything literally. The subtle nuances of sophisticated humor are lost on them. They don't understand irony or hyperbole or the value of comical imaging.


I don't agree with everything Bret says. But I would defend to the death his right to say it as he sees it. This world would be a very boring place if we were all mirror images of each other thinking and acting exactly alike.

Variety is truly the spice of life.

If all of us though exactly alike we would be becalmed in the creative doldrums. Progress would be impossible.

When I see a letter to the editor criticizing Bret, I think of the late Norm Pliscou, a philosophical gadfly who was often criticized for having written controversial letters to the editor. No one seemed to realize that Norm's purpose was to provoke them to think about a given subject.

I seldom agreed with what Norm said but respected his right to say it. I did not respond with criticisms, but would often offer the opposing viewpoint in the spirit of debate.

After Norm's demise, we had no one to provoke us to think until Bret started writing his column. I think of a semi-naughty saying: "You should not take too seriously what is poked at you in fun."

But if you do take it seriously, don't try to castigate the messenger. State your reasons for opposing the message.

Calling Bret names, or ridiculing him, adds nothing to the sum of human thought. It detracts from what you have to say and shows that you are at best a shallow thinker, incapable of debating a subject or presenting a logical opposing view on a reasonable level.


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