One of my all-time favorite writers is the late Mike Royko, a newspaper columnist born and raised in Chicago who was well known for taking on Mayor Richard Daley (the first), Big Boss of The Windy City. He also famously tangled with Frank Sinatra when Ol’ Blues Eyes made a Chi’town appearance, guarded by a huge contingent of Chicago policemen. Sinatra publicly called Royko a “pimp” when Mike had the audacity to question why a celebrity with an already huge entourage needed the extra muscle of a platoon of cops.
Mike was frequently criticized for “telling it like it is,” or at least HIS opinion of whatever political maelstrom he was covering. And although I can only dream of being the writer he was, , offending practically everyone in town, including geese. Mea culpa, mea culpa.
We live in a town where most people do not want to rock the boat, or the turf. And now, because I have the gall to have an opinion that is contrary to others, some people are calling for me to be fired from Patch, fired from and forced to make apologies to township attorney Tom Coleman, the Three Stooges and the late Joe Paterno. All because I have the nerve to say what many are thinking but wisely keep to themselves. Wise is not my strong suit, but defending my right to say what I’m thinking IS. So, as succinctly as possible, allow me to respond to some of my more passionate critics:
“Your needs are selfish. I’ve asked before, if you hate it here so much why stay? You sound like a big baby”
Yes, my needs are selfish—aren’t yours? But really, what do you know about my needs? You don’t know me. I have written extensively about my dislike for the machinations of our current town council in their quest for turf fields, it’s true. But I’ve written just as many columns about the many joys of living in our green little paradise of a town. You’re only commenting on the negative. Isn’t that what you’re accusing me of?
Some think I should be 86’ed for my opinions, but yours are all OK? I recognize the fact that, like myself, you have strong opinions and are not afraid to use your own name when voicing them. But you consistently take my words out of context to prove your point.
“It is articles like this that are dividing our town with hateful comments and insensitive comments like athletes are all bullies.”
This is important, so let me be clear: I never said that. The phrase I used was “many athletes.” I stand by that statement, regardless of the generalization. If you like you can use the phrase “some athletes” instead of “many athletes.” The words “some” and “many” are far from “all.” So I’m not apologizing for using them, and I take offense at being told I called “all athletes” bullies because I DID NOT. You are right to suggest I had unresolved issues about "us jokes," but I think you meant "us jocks." Is a jock someone who believes in physical fitness? Someone who goes to the gym frequently, enjoys sports and watches games on television? .
“BUT, I truly take offense in the fact the Marisia is accusing every parent in this town of raising a town of bulliies.”
I can tell you’re a good mom, but that’s not what I said and you know it.
To the Penn State alumni and defenders: I am sorry to lump all of you into one paragraph, but so many people hate me right now that I want to save some room to respond to them as well. Here’s what I wrote:
“Look at what's happening at Penn State. This was an institution that revered their football program above everything else, including education and the welfare of children. I would never compare Moorestown to Penn State, but there is a lesson to be learned by putting sports on a pedestal much higher than that of education.”
Penn State alumni had this to say about that.
"Thank her for calling all athletes bullies or slandering Penn St again!?! Yes, let's thank her for being such a divisive person on a personal crusade for her own selfish causes. Her vile message is not something anyone would be proud of.”
Again, college grads, let me point out that many is vastly different than all. And the monster you spoke of (Jerry Sandusky) was allowed to continue abusing kids because of the power, prestige and revenue of the football program. That, in my opinion, is a very clear example of putting sports above education, which I think is very dangerous. That was my point. Sorry you missed it. Perhaps I didn’t make it clear before. How about this: Sports are important. Sports are not most important. , and not what I see as a priority in Moorestown where youth sports are already quite strong.
What is my cause, by the way? If you're talking about the library as being my cause, I must clarify. Here’s my position on the library: I work there, I love my job and I’m good at it. as a counterpoint to the calls from the coaches to get the turf fields built NOW. The library has been in limbo for close to 20 years versus several years of the K.I.D.S. Initiative, so why the urgency?
I have never demanded a new library, folks. My column of Jan. 9, 2012, . But if I had, how would a new library possibly serve me? Better chairs to sit on? Perhaps. A mildew-free workplace? Sure. But a clean, well-lit library doesn’t benefit me as much as it does the public. Hey, it will benefit our young athletes too: books about fielding your position in baseball, the “2” technique in football, playing goalie in soccer or hockey, handling your stick in field hockey and lacrosse—it’s all here at the ol’ library folks! Come on in!
Another reader said he "cringes when I see a headline authored by her." Nobody is forcing you to read my column. I certainly don’t want you to cringe. I based my remark about bullying on the almost 10 years I was a substitute teacher here and in other towns. I’m sure your children are/were lovely student-athletes. We all believe that of our children, but unless you are accompanying your children to school every day, you have no idea how kids behave when they are away from home. Peer pressure is extreme and, unfortunately, many fine young people succumb to it, regardless of what we try to teach them.
In raising them, I told my sons they could always find something to apologize for, even when they were positive that they were being victimized, picked on or targeted. So I am sorry I said “many athletes.” As stated above, maybe I should have said “some athletes,” so I sincerely apologize for that. But there is a germ of truth in what I’ve said about bullies, whether you want to admit it or not.
Last but not least, let me reply to the posters who suggested I should be fired for writing my opinion. As I said, I write as many articles about what I love here in town as I do about the politics that sadden me. Do I hate the people of Moorestown? No, I don’t. But, as you pointed out, . I’m going to rush right down to and yell at one right now.
For anyone to take an opinion piece and twist it into a campaign to get me fired is akin to a witch hunt. You worry aloud about how I will treat your “jock” children, and in the same sentence claim to have attended some of my programs. If you had sat in on any of my kindergarten programs, you would know I treat ALL kids with affection and a sense of humor. I love what I do and the kids love me right back, so I would be surprised if your call for others to join your lynch mob resulted in any negative comments about the way I read Mo Wilhem to the kids. And by the way? Shame on you for referring to your children as jocks at such an early age! They have years to define themselves.
In parting, if you see me on Main Street, wearing a tatty, floor-length robe and waving a staff, it is because so many of you have said I am single-handedly dividing the town. I would like to thank you in advance for imbuing me with such strength! My next strong-arm act of dividing the town will take place on Aug. 16 at approximately 6:54 p.m. Hope to see you there!