Would you believe there are some folks out there who blame “those geezers,” which is how they refer to residents of Sun City Summerlin, for the need to reconstruct Rampart Boulevard?
Who knows, maybe next they’ll blame some of the more serious problems of the world — global warming, other weather phenomena and perhaps even the Ebola crisis — on those same Sun City “geezers.”
How do I know this? It all goes back to a column I wrote some weeks ago, detailing the remaking of Rampart Boulevard, an 11-month work-in-progress that includes the installation of new sewer pipes. The interpretation of that column became so twisted in the minds of a few that it ended up serving as the ingredient for trashing Sun City’s residents.
In fact, one reader went so far as to characterize Sun City and its elderly population as “a comedian’s dream.”
My column appears in View online on alternate weeks throughout the year. Readers are free to comment online, and they often do, thereby expressing opinions that frequently range from intellectual challenges to raising interesting related questions.
Rarely do these comments rake the muck of downright buffoonery, as was the case in point, in which some readers used the elderly residents of Sun City as fuel for their humor. One can only hope that the puppeteers will one day experience the feelings of the puppets they mock.
Of course, readers of any column or article that appears in newsprint similarly have the freedom to express their opinions by writing letters to the editor. In most cases, barring poor choices in the use of language, those opinions are published on newspaper editorial pages. For that you can thank the Bill of Rights, consisting of the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
As a reminder, the first of those precious amendments states in part: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press …”
In all likelihood, the framers who ratified the Bill of Rights in 1791 never meant for somebody — who we will refer to as Reader One — to react to the reconstruction of a portion of Rampart Boulevard by wandering 180 degrees away from the subject with statements written as follows:
“And then watch for the Sun City Sugars — the older women dressed to the nines with dresses/shorts/skirts higher than mid-thigh, with their bouffant hair. This place is a comedian’s dream.”
It all began with a colloquy that raised some interesting questions. Reader One, referring to Rampart Boulevard, wrote, “Every year, if they aren’t tearing up some portion of that road, they’re tearing up the median.” (The reference to every year is quite an overstatement.) But Reader One continues, “Then, north Cheyenne (Avenue) gets the same treatment. What’s with that section of road?”
Reader One went on to bring up some good points: “Is shoddy work being done … to cause some type of construction every year? I travel a lot of roads that aren’t torn up every year and some roads that should be fixed for years and haven’t. What is going on with Rampart? Details — get me the details.”
That’s where Reader Two chimed in, presumably with “details” that quickly went sour: “That whole area is best-avoided anyway. With Sun City Summerlin there are (sic) a lot of elderly drivers who due to age-related issues are poor drivers, and one has to constantly avoid them. I use Buffalo (Drive) instead; less traffic and fewer elderly drivers.”
Reader One then replied, “You should see the oldsters in the parking lot at the Smith’s (food market), Rampart/Lake Mead. Those geezers will use their vehicles to push the go-carts out of parking spaces … and into other cars to avoid having to park a little further.
“They are hilarious. If you catch one of them doing it, they panic. And then it takes them seven attempts to back out — vehicle is usually too big for them to maneuver — and park somewhere else.”
The rest of Reader One’s comments were sarcastic references to the elderly, such as the “Sun City Sugars” and their dressing habits. The muddle along Rampart Boulevard was no longer the subject of their concern.
Herb Jaffe was an op-ed columnist and investigative reporter for most of his 39 years at the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. His most recent novel, “Double Play,” is now available. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.