A Stones Throw 3-5-15


One of my daughter’s friends asked the question: “If March comes in like a lion and goes out like lamb – what happens if March comes in like a Polar Bear?

I found this whimsical question both interesting and fun. I think I have the perfect answer – which I will reveal later.

While a little whimsy is fun and often takes both creativity and intelligence to develop, sometimes it can be totally wrong.

For instance, my granddaughter’s favorite movie is Walt Disney’s “Frozen.” She, like tens of thousands of other young girls, loves “Frozen” dolls, books, clothes – anything that depicts “Frozen.” “Frozen” has become an industry of itself.

The characters in “Frozen” have become icons for many young children (and adults). To many, the characters are no longer fantasies that come alive in a movie theater or on television.

The characters in “Frozen” are real – Just like the characters on “The Voice.”

Imagine the impact the following February 23rd, USA Today Network headline could have on an eight- or nine- or 10-year old girl whose dreams include the characters of “Frozen.”

Elsa from ‘Frozen’ arrested again


It is like an NFL fan learning that the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots cheat to win football games. It is like a Major League baseball fan learning that Pete Rose bet on baseball. This is like learning that your favorite baseball player was a steroid user. True or false – a hero is no longer a hero.

Only the “Elsa” headline is a lot worse. This is a headline that can destroy the dreams of young children. And, as if the headline is not enough, it was followed by a picture of “Elsa” being put in a police car by a police officer.

Obviously, the character who played “Elsa” is not a person to be loved. She is a criminal.

Or not.

The article below the glaring headline and the large picture of “Elsa” being placed in the police car read:

“For the second time in a week, a local police department is accusing the ice princess of mean-spiritedly bringing cold weather to their town.”

The Hanahan (S.C.) Police Department made the tongue-in-cheek arrest on Sunday. Her crime? Bringing a cold front into the Palmetto state and freezing a local fountain.

“Hopefully Elsa will stay away, although it’s supposed to be cold tomorrow, so we may have to get her again,” police chief Mike Cochran told USA TODAY Network.

It wasn’t Elsa’s first brush with the law. A Kentucky police department had fun with the frigid temperatures last week, posting on Facebook that they were issuing an arrest warrant for the ice queen.

The post said, “Suspect is a blonde female last seen wearing a long blue dress and is known to burst into song ‘Let it Go!’ As you can see by the weather she is very dangerous.”

Cute – Maybe?

Whimsical – without the headline and the picture – yes. With the headline and the picture – absolutely not.

I don’t know how a headline writer can take a fun story and make it into a horror story in just five words – but some USA Today writer managed to do so.

Still, the misguided headline message is not nearly as dumb and thoughtless as what we see on television during the worst storms of the season. The past several weeks have brought over 100 inches of snow, winds up to 70 miles per hour, and severe floods in New England.

Weather reporters stood in the wind and snow to tell viewers what they already knew – the storms were dangerous.

While we escaped most of the New England “winter of 2015,” we had our share of snow and icy roads.

We also had our share of weather reporters driving the streets and highways showing how bad the roads were getting – and telling us that the police and government officials were asking everyone to stay off the roads.

So – what were these people doing driving on roads they were supposed to stay off of? This isn’t the classic “do as I say – not as I do.” (That is reserved for police cars that can go over 80 miles per hour in a 65 mph zone.)

Then, while I admit I watch the weather reports on television more as a result, why do the networks feel it is necessary to have their reporters standing outside in the middle of a snowstorm just so they can report that it is “really coming down hard?”

I can tell that it is “really coming down hard” just by looking out my window – and I am both safe and warm while doing so.

At the same time, having reporters stand in the snow with wind chills below zero is not as bad as having reporters stand in the middle of a hurricane. Why would anyone assign a reporter to risk his/her life (along with that of the unseen camera person) just to show that the network was right when it predicted a storm?

The answer – though wrong – is simple.

Reporting the weather is entertainment news. The more drama, the more extreme, the more danger, the more viewers.

And, viewers pay the bill.

Meanwhile, to some – if it is okay for weather reporters to be out and about, surely it is okay for “me” to be out and about.

This thought process then leads to major accidents which lead to more entertainment value of television newscasts.

This is both wrong and ridiculous – much like the “Elsa” headline.

If we are going to spend our time with the ridiculous during these winter storms, we should spend it contemplating on the question: “If March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb – what happens if March comes in like a polar bear?”

I think I know the answer.

If March comes in like a polar bear, it goes out like a Turkey Vulture cleaning up the mess made by both nature and man.

– Mike Cooney


Postscript: Kudos to the Switzerland County Transportation Department for a herculean effort to keep our roads safe. Unlike reporters and adventurers, they have to be on the roads when the roads are at their worst.