Sounding off on "Sound Off"

If you live in Delaware County (and I assume you do) and have read the Daily Times, you have probably seen the “Sound Off” section. Sound Off is supposed to be a part of the paper that gives a chance for the “people” to speak. The problem with that concept, however, is that the average person is completely stupid and misinformed and basically just wants to read their messages in the paper the next day. I have noticed over the past 2 years or so that Sound Off is more of a forum to trash whatever political party the caller is against. I have a feeling though that it was always filled with tacky complaints revolving around misinformation or just plain ignorance. While some of these rants are comical, most can be categorized as eye-rollers. I’ll use a few of the February 16th, 2007 Sound Off calls as everyday examples of how this section of the paper is sometimes completely unreadable.

Who’s in Charge?: “Is there anyone in charge of the asylum? Who is supposed to be watching our tax money in Harrisburg? They’re just filling their own pockets, this way and that way. Who’s in charge?” Ok…what exactly are you talking about? Filling their own pockets in what way (besides this and that)? Who’s in charge of what? My guess is this is someone who just found out they owe $15 income tax to the state and don’t understand why they should have to pay “them”.

Bumps for everyone: “….Brookhaven residents…want speed bumps (on Trimble Blvd)…I have another recommendation. Put them on the turnpike and Blue Route to slow down people up there also” Here’s a common theme in Sound off. People in a town want something done, person in another town compares it to his town’s own problems. Here’s the problem with his advice – it’s completely stupid. Besides wrecking your vehicle and causing severe backups for miles along 476, what will speed bumps accomplish? I’m assuming this person is only kidding (ha ha, good one). I hope.

A straight shooter: “I know Mayor C. Scott Shields. He…doesn’t care if you are gay…(he) has a problem with gays demanding privileges and protections that the rest of us don’t get…Talk to him, read his articles or watch him on TV…” Ok…I really thought I was out of the loop, because I had no idea who C. Scott Shields was. Turns out he’s the mayor of….Rutledge. I had no idea Rutledge had this kind of gay uprising! He’s also a lawyer, so I’m assuming it’s $250 per hour to talk to him, and for some reason I’ve never been able to catch him on TV (could be because he’s the mayor of…Rutledge). What exactly are the gays asking for that “we” don’t get? I’m guessing that the caller wouldn’t be able to give me a good example anyway.

Rush to Idiocy: “….Rush Limbaugh…feels the need to express his opinions about…Rex Grossman, Chicago’s quarterback….Let me tell you a secret Rush…if you’re good you’re good and if you stink you stink” Ahh…I’m trying to figure out why I would care. You are calling a local newspaper to complain about a radio host, not even from the region, because you don’t like him commenting on the NFL? Get a life. I’m not a big Rush fan either (well ok, at all), but when you nitpick, you nitpick.

This isn’t to say that every single Sound Off item is horrible. There were some in today’s paper thanking people for help or commenting on current events without sounding completely dumb. I would like the Daily Times to have an Internet-style sound off – a message board where you can say whatever you want, but with the opportunity of others to call you out on it. It may lead to a lot of hurt feelings, but it will also allow someone to think twice about what they are complaining about.