, Newburyport, MA

March 27, 2014

Between 'lightning' and 'lightning bug'

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

Responding to my March 6 column about the shooting in a Florida cinema, a letter (“Nothing light-hearted about shooting someone,” March 21) asks what I think about the shooter “himself texting moments before he killed another man.”

However, the letter cites a March 13 Christian Science Monitor report in which the word is not “moments” but “minutes.” According to the Associated Press, 15 minutes, well before the confrontation began.

Also worth noting: The CSM headline, “Man who shot texter was texting, too,” lends itself to the impression that the texts were simultaneous.

Headline writers often look for an apparent paradox in a story to grab readers’ attention, trusting that the report will supply precision and detail — such as the sequence of events.

Despite that, and despite her claim that I “do not have all the facts,” the headline is the only quote the writer takes from CSM.

If the CSM can be twisted to that extent, perhaps I shouldn’t mind that my line, “While I cannot approve of the shooting,” was ignored in order to make it appear that I do approve.

Or that my intent was called “light-hearted.” Clearly, my use of that word referred to my reminders to audiences before the start of films to silence ringtones and refrain from flashing screens.

Judging from the approving nods, the laughter and at times applause, audiences understand this. Judging from comments that follow, they are reminders that stick.

Moreover, reactions of those who scramble to find and silence cells as I speak show that they appreciate the reminders as much as anyone.

For this I am most grateful. Unlike the letter writer who is “annoyed … frequently” by that loud cellphone voice in the grocery store, my job obligates me to silence those voices and ringtones in a theater near you.

Jack Garvey

Plum Island