No Opinions, No Negatives, Never Again
Billy Eckstine Passes My Test Easily!
My Cousin Michael Torpey Passes My Test, Too!
I am often accused of being opinionated. Heaven forefend!
Worse, I am frequently castigated for being negative. I'm not!
To defend oneself against such vicious attacks at the time that they're leveled against you is often difficult; there's generally precious little time because you're in the midst of doing other things and the occasion is rarely an opportune one.
Until recently, when told, "My, you're opinionated," or "Boy, you're negative," I would just let sleeping dogs lie; say nothing, let the remarks go by uncontested.
But I think I learned something from the Bush-Dukakis presidential campaign (You remember that one!) as well as the Clinton-Bush clash. I learned what the candidates learned: If you don't respond to criticism when it comes people somehow tend to believe whatever allegations are made against you -- whether or not they have merit.
False Charges Require Response
The fact is you have to defend yourself against false charges -- or take the significant risk that they will be believed. The more significant the charge, the more likely it will be believed -- you know, the Big Lie theory.
So, just to keep the record straight, I hereby declare that the allegations that I am opinionated and negative are patently untrue! The trial is over; I am not guilty of any such misdemeanors!
I do plead guilty, however, to the charge of ignorance. I was truly unaware of the motives of my accusers.
But, happily, my ignorance has subsided. Now I understand what I did not understand before: What people who accuse you of being opinionated really mean is that the opinions you express do not coincide with theirs (that is, they don't agree with you.)
I'm Never Negative
Similarly, I am not negative. Never!
But at least now, finally, I understand what I didn't comprehend then: People who accuse you of being negative do so because they have difficulty facing reality. They don't want to know the truth!
As my friends and associates know -- because I've told them so often -- I rarely offer opinions, but I often make observations about myriad topics.
Lo! There is a difference.
How so, you ask?
Let me explain.
Try the Radio Test
When I say that rock 'n roll is noise, I am simply making an observation, not issuing an opinion. And it certainly isn't negative! It's simply a matter of definitions. All you have to do is turn a radio on and move the dial; when you hear Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Billy Eckstine, et al, you're listening to music! When your ears are barraged with loud disjointed noise, you've hit another rock 'n roll station.
And is it negative when you make the simple observation that the Boston Red Sox have no chance, again, of making it to the American League championships? Certainly not!
Nor is it positive to observe that the New York Yankees have an excellent chance of winning the pennant, and the World Series. No, it's not positive -- it's simply the way things are.
Henceforth, do not look for opinions from me. I have none. And look only for positives; nothing negative will ever pass my lips -- never again.
I wrote this column as a "My View" for The Hour newspaper of Norwalk, Conn., on Aug. 28, 1993.