Can’t a guy have a beer in peace? |

Can’t a guy have a beer in peace?

Jeff Ackerman

There were only two of us bellied up to the bar at the time, and there was no sporting event on television to occupy our thoughts. So I introduced myself to the fellow to my right and he grunted.

“I know who you are,” he said. “You’re part of the liberal media.”

In the mood for a little conversation with my beer, I decided to challenge my new friend.

“Actually, I’m not,” I said.

“Not what?” he said.

“Not part of the liberal media,” I explained, knowing I should have taken the state transportation job when it was offered up 25 years ago.

“Really?” he challenged. “Then how come you keep referring to Najaf and Karbala as holy cities in your news stories from Iraq?”

“I don’t,” I stammered. “I’ve never been to Najaf or Karbala in my life. I suppose the correspondents in Iraq refer to them that way because they have serious religious significance to the Shiite Muslims.”

“Or it could be that you want to make it seem like Americans are destroying something holy as they try to weed out the murdering terrorists who are using the so-called holy cities as hostages. What’s holy about a place where they worship AK-47s and rocket launchers?”

“Good point,” I said. “It does seem as if they’re trying to hide behind their religious cloaks a bit much.”

“And I love the headlines you guys write about Americans bombing mosques,” he continued, feeling his oats a bit. “When you hide weapons inside a church during a war, it’s no longer a church. It’s just another building with weapons inside.”

“Yeah, but mosque sounds so much more … I don’t know … compassionate than building,” I argued, suddenly wishing the place would fill up so I could sneak out the back. “And it’s a shorter word.”

“And those pieces of garbage who cut that American’s head off on videotape? Why does the media call it a revenge killing?” he pressed. “Revenge for what? For putting women’s undies over a prisoner’s head?”

He was on a roll now, and the bartender was leaning in to hear my response.

“Those guys in that video are the reason we’re fighting today,” the bartender chimed in, sensing a kill.

“I never said they were justified!” I shouted. “They said in the video it was revenge. The media just reports the facts and nothing but the facts!”

That’s when my new friend shoved that morning’s San Francisco Chronicle next to my peanuts.

“Look at that!” he said, tapping his finger on a story under a headline that read: “Officials say methods at prison broke rules.” There was a subhead suggesting that Geneva accord violations were rampant at the now-famous Abu Ghraib prison.

The fellow then turned the pages of the Chronicle to A13, where a headline read: “CIA reportedly confirms al-Zarqawi was beheader.” The story went on to indicate that terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was the masked man who beheaded the American civilian in Iraq.

“Why wasn’t that one on the front page?” the fellow at the bar wanted to know. “How come we have to turn to page 13 to read about the dirt-bag terrorist who cut that poor guy’s head off?”

“Can I get another beer?” I asked the bartender, searching for just the right response.

“First off,” I said. “I don’t work at the Chronicle. It’s not that I wouldn’t mind it. It’s just that I’ve got kids, and San Francisco is too expensive, and I wouldn’t want a drunk homeless man throwing up on my front steps every day.”

“What’s that got to do with the liberal media?” he countered.

“Nothing, really,” I said. “You just got me thinking about San Francisco. Did I ever tell you about the time …”

“Shut up!” he shouted. “I’m trying to get you to admit that you journalists are a bunch of sniveling liberals who are completely out of touch with America!”

“Oh, yeah!” I shouted back, starting to get a little angry. “Why don’t you shut up?”

I knew it was a mistake as soon as I said it, but I’d heard my son say the same thing to his sister that very morning, and it stuck with me.

“I’m not a liberal!” I screamed. “I … I … I voted for Nixon!”

With that, the fellow pushed back his bar stool and stormed out, tossing me that morning’s paper. It was open to page A12, and somewhere near the bottom of the page was a little story about the Boston Globe editors apologizing for running a photograph purported to show U.S. soldiers raping Iraqi women. Unfortunately for the Globe, it wasn’t substantiated. The photos originated from some Internet porn site. In a statement, Globe editor Martin Baron said the photo should never have appeared.

“Liberal media, my fanny,” I muttered. “Can’t a guy have a beer in peace?”


Jeff Ackerman is the publisher of The Union. His column appears each Tuesday.

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