APRIL 2011: Point/Counterpoint OR...
Author: Frank Dunne, Jr. & Courtney Hampson | Photographer: Photography by Anne
“OF COURSE I RESPECT THAT YOU HAVE AN OPINION…BUT YOU’RE STILL WRONG.”*
In my version of the perfect world, I’d be the New York Jets’ quarterback. Yeah, I know. By now I’d be retired and offering pithy, in-depth game day analysis on ESPN—and on my way to enshrinement in Canton—but that’s neither here nor there. The point is my number-one career choice didn’t exactly work out. Shed no tears for me, though. I pretty much came to terms with this at age nine while playing Pee Wee football.
Career choice number two, carrier-based fighter pilot, kind of flamed out early too. Turns out it’s bad strategy to put a nearsighted guy behind the stick in a $40 million supersonic aircraft capable of delivering a nuclear-tipped ordinance.
So I had to choose a different path, and after career choices three through 6, 487, I find myself here. Disguised as a mild mannered freelance contributor to a sun splashed island community periodical, I fight the never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way. That is, the American way as expressed in two historic documents (that begin, respectively: “When in the course of human events…” and “We the People…”), written by brilliant statesmen who actually knew what they were talking about.
Today, the fight moves to these pages as fellow C2 contributor Courtney Hampson and I begin a monthly battle of wits and words for your entertainment. From this point forward, we will square off from opposing sides of a question or issue about which we honestly disagree.
I’ve never met my opponent on the field of battle, or anywhere else for that matter, so I’m up against the most challenging of adversaries: an unknown. Oh, Miss Courtney and I have chatted on the phone and exchanged a few e-mails (no text messages, though), and I’ve found her to be very bright, witty and clever. Her proclivity for injecting the subject of pornography into conversations is somewhat bemusing, but notwithstanding that, I see no reason to presume that Miss Courtney is anything but a worthy contender.
She is also quite likeable and, drawing from a photo or two that I’ve seen, a rather fetching young lady. But fear not, dear readers, your champion will not be distracted! I will not allow her to obfuscate the truth with her wily charm! I am in it to win it!
We’re already off to a good start. As Miss Courtney put it so eloquently, we can’t even agree on what to call the dang thing. To date, our working title has been Point/Counterpoint, in homage to the old (emphasis on old) Saturday Night Live skit featuring Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin. Miss Courtney is content to rest on her haunches and stick with that.
And so it begins. C’mon, Courtney! Point/Counterpoint is O-L-D old! It’s already been done. It’s already been copied. Heck, you probably weren’t even born when Aykroyd and Curtin did that bit.
Why do you think you and I were chosen for this mission—because we have no ideas of our own? Of course not. We’re here to bring intellectual and creative juice to the table. We’re here to think big. We’re here to think forward. Miss Editor called us the A-Team, so start acting like it!
You made reference to my list of 100 suggestions, at least 78 of which are better than Point/Counterpoint. From that I have selected: “Of Course I Respect that You Have an Opinion…But You’re Still Wrong.”
Why? I’ll give you two reasons. First, it’s an elegant blend of polite discourse and obnoxious verbal smack down. Second, and most importantly, it will be our own.
You see, Miss Courtney, I’m looking at the big picture. If this little thing of ours works, why stop here? I’m thinking national…no…worldwide syndication! Radio! Television! Our own network for cryin’ out loud! C’mon, baby! Think BIG!
For that to happen we need our own identity, our own brand. Otherwise, we’re just another Point/Counterpoint copycat.
So what’s it gonna be, readers? Are you riding with me on the Big Idea Express Train to the Future, or will you take your seat next to Miss Courtney on the Old, Worn Out Idea Chuck wagon?
We look forward to your response.
I’m addicted to Chapstick. I deplore clip art. I wear flip flops once the weather clears 50 degrees. I love a good party, but not a Tea Party. I’m not a lawyer, but I like to play one in magazines. If I believe something or someone to be true and just, I will support that person, idea, organization, ’til the cows come home or the margaritas run dry. I’ll study the opposition’s logic, mount a campaign and argue for what I believe. Almost every time.
Sometimes I will play devil’s advocate just for the heck of it, because sometimes I love nothing more than getting a rise out of someone. I like to make people think (and get a little hot under the collar).
Let me give you an example. If you and I were dating and you were to reveal to me that you “have to look at online pornography,” I would 1) Walk out of the restaurant. 2) Spend the next 24 hours, before dumping your behind, grilling you in an effort to understand exactly what you mean by “have to.” Oh yes, I’d ask that question 2,000 ways to Tuesday to try to get a real understanding of what exactly it was you were telling me. (True story.) For me, it was about the choice of words and the non-existent-logic that followed. Game was on!
So, when my worthy opponent, Frank, and I were approached with idea of a monthly duel of rhetoric, I was intrigued. I immediately began channeling my inner Jane Curtin, ala Saturday Night Live, and pitched a name for this monthly masterpiece: Point/Counterpoint. Frank immediately disagreed with my suggestion (foreshadowing), and later sent a list of 100 other potential column names—all of which I dismissed.
Allow me to provide some reference, for our readers born after the creation of the Internet. “Point/Counterpoint” was a segment on Saturday Night Live, in the late ’70s. “Point/Counterpoint” featured Jane Curtin and Dan Aykroyd making personal attacks on each other’s positions on a variety of topics. Aykroyd regularly began his reply with, “Jane, you ignorant slut,” and Curtin frequently began her reply with “Dan, you pompous ass.”
Now, I’m not telling you this because I find Frank to be a pompous ass. (That may very well come with time…) Nor, do I consider myself ignorant or loose. However, I do find the title—and the “historical” reference—to be significant, because it suggests a certain sarcasm and levity that allows two people to disagree on a topic yet still have fun in the process. And if there are two things I love more than a debate, they are sarcasm and laughter.
Alas, here we are at our first column, and we can’t even agree on what to call the dang thing. Frank will argue that the name Point/Counterpoint has been over-used, and frankly, I cannot disagree. But, that doesn’t make me like it any less.
I’m not going to fall on my sword for this one. There will be plenty of time for that.
This is where you come in. Help us pick a name for our monthly clash, and if you’re up for it, go ahead and suggest some possible topics as well. Just don’t throw me any softballs like paper vs. plastic, second-hand smoke, or dog poop scooping. Those answers are so obvious: paper; kill yourself, don’t kill me; and if I can do it, so can you.
I want a challenge.
Because let’s face it. I am a master (de)bater. (Just like my ex-boyfriend.)
Do you have an opinion (even though its wrong)? Should this column be called Point/Counterpoint (of course it should, you pompous ass)? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know!