John Kass and the Art of Hypocrisy

Dear Mr. John Kass,

This morning, while at church, with my husband and children, good Christians, all, I received a text from a fellow writer:

Didya see Kass took a swipe atcha???

No, I replied, since, as a good Christian, I was at church with my husband and children (I was, however, reading a text during the sermon so…you be the judge…) and hadn’t had a chance to read the newspaper so dutifully delivered to my doorstep earlier that morning.

How noble of you, Mr. Kass, to hover with the common writers, to lower yourself from your lofty Towers of Tribune perch.  How indignant you were!  How annoying it must have been for you, oh, bearer of the great Tribune writing torch, to even read a blog (the lowliest kind of writing, the lowliest kind of writer…akin to, in many circles, a leper…wait…is that politically incorrect?  Never mind.  I’ll Google it.).

You say, in your column (for which you get paid, yes, and receive benefits, I suppose), that,

One blog at ChicagoNow, part of the Tribune media group, purported in a fake news story to have interviewed the Roman Catholic Pope Francis.  At this newspaper, we’re not allowed to make up fake interviews with popes.  But some blogs must operate under different rules.  Accoring to that blog, “Pope Francis” defended Kuma’s.  He said he might like his Ghost burger sent to Rome.

"Perhaps…if this Kuma considers lowering the price so that families with kids – good, breeding families with 8-10 kids – can eat there.  You know, like McDonald’s,” the fake pope said.

Breeders?

That’s how some refer to women with children.  They’re not mothers, they’re breeders, you know, like sows producing livestock.  Is that part of Chicago’s values too?

My heavens, Mr. Kass, sows and livestock?  I, myself, am a breeder.  And damn proud of it.

Have you heard of satire, Mr. Kass?  I mean, really have you?

I remember, a few years back, my now-retired minister (you’ve probably heard of him, Mr. Kass, because he was the spiritual leader of the Christian church where I’m a Christian…he’s right up there with Martin E. Marty…yes, Mr. Kass, even lowly bloggers are allowed to name-drop spiritual scholars' names), focused on how Christians should have a sense of humor about their faith while, at the same time, not allowing themselves – when threatened -- to turn the other cheek.  He related a story about being in the car with his wife, also a Christian, when someone cut him off and, in the full grip of road rage, started yelling at him.

He, instead of doing what might be expected of a good Christian, checked with his Christian wife who gave him the thumb’s up, and responded in a measured, sensible way.

So, Mr. Kass, I commend you for defending Christianity and pointing out how a burger has offended you.  We need more strong, if not dour, Christians like you.

So here's where I defend myself.

Thank you for pointing out, Mr. Kass, that "at this newspaper, we’re not allowed to make up fake interviews with popes.  But some blogs must operate under different rules.”

I am guessing, Mr. Kass, that you have not read my non-satirical blogs (I can see you shivering at the prospect of even typing the URL…but I bet you could do it if you closed your eyes and took a deep breath).  In fact, I often read other papers (yes…I know…shocker!) and reference them in my blog (and, again, Mr. Kass, I realize that this isn’t real writing, it’s not writing by people who are paid by an institution or people who have Ivy League degrees).

Let me define this new-fangled thing we call ‘a blog,’ Mr. Kass.

blog:  a personal website or web page on which an individual records opinions, links to other sites, etc., on a regular basis.

I have to question your motives, Mr. Kass.  Do you own Kuma’s Corner stock?  Because you, as you accuse this blogger of doing, are only bringing more attention to Kuma’s Corner (on the corner of Belmont & N. Francisco Avenue) by focusing your Sunday column on Kuma’s Corner (did I mention it’s on the corner of Belmont & Francisco Avanues?).  You must know, Mr. Kass, that you are giving them an amazing amount of free press.

I’m not Roman Catholic, but I am a Christian, and I was offended.  And sickened.  And angry because the predictable happened.  Kuma’s got the public buzz.  And half-wits couldn’t wait to mock Christians who were offended.

Half-wit, now, you say?  This is where I stop thanking you, Mr. Kass. And, yes, while it’s true that my parents are first cousins, and my grandparents were siblings, I don’t find it very Christian-like to call someone a half-wit.  Even I, with all of my inbreeding (there’s that horrible, horrible word, again!) find being called a ‘half-wit’ downright hurtful.

You want to know what I find offensive and sickening?  Malala Yousafzai being shot because she was brave enough to speak her mind.  The Westgate Mall massacre in Kenya.  Attacks on Christians who supported Morsi’s ouster.  There are many things I find offensive and sickening.

A Kuma’s Corner burger isn’t one of them.

If you were really concerned with not offending people, Mr. Kass, you wouldn’t have written this:

Say, a Muhammad burger, of pork belly and fried pigs’ ears.  Or a King David burger, of ground pork loin, bacon, cheese and a mandatory milk shake.  Or a Buddha carpaccio plate with raw egg, or a secular Obama burger that costs only $17 trillion.

And, for the record, you stole that idea from my blog post.

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Comments

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  • As Les Grobstein would put it "he read it, didn't he...she accomplished her purpose."*

    Also, Kass is getting into the lazy journalist mode of byproducting other stuff, usually his radio program, into text for the newspaper. Not much different than Carol Marin doing an investigation for Channel 5 and then redoing it for the Sun-Times and Channel 11. Or was it doing it first for the Sun-Times and then for Channels 5 and 11? Lot easier to read a blog than do some investigatory journalism.

    ________
    *So I don't have anyone after me, the real context is someone calling Grobstein complaining about Boers and Bernstein, to which Grobstein asks, "you listened, didn't you?"

  • The title of your blog is a reminder to Kass that every single person who has ever read his column wonders how it is possible that a man like him, who has absolutely no talent as a writer or a journalist, somehow finagled his way into the job the great, irreplaceable Mike Royko once held.

    He knows he's a worthless sham, and so does everybody else. When is the Trib going to realize this and fire his irrelevant ass?

  • Well said. I never read Mr. Kass even though I get the Tribune delivered to my house every morning. (In fact I switched to the Trib when Royko did.) I have made the choice not to waste my time on his poorly written and dull columns but I read your blog and enjoyed it very much.

  • In reply to Kathy Mathews:

    I wonder whether any Tribune columnist should be considered authoritative, especially Zorn and Byrne. At least it appears that Zorn got the message that he shouldn't make predictions about legal matters without seeking counsel first, but I don't think Pope Francis wants Byrne to speak for the Church.

    Kass doesn't offer much, but at least he got the RTA issue correct, and his recipe for Grecian Beer Can Chicken seems o.k. (and unlike the BBQ hosts on pubic television, does say what to do with the half can's worth of beer you are supposed to pour out before sticking the can up the chicken's behind).

  • Well played! His lame column doesn't even compare to your writing...(www.lipstickandlollypops.com)

  • Is it ok that I call Kass the big head with nothing in it?

  • I make it a point to ignore negative and ignorant people, but I do believe that in this case, you chose correctly and you NAILED IT. I'm proud to be a blogger. Did we all get journalism degrees and study the f*&king literary classics? Nope. But all people have something to offer, and blogs are such a great delivery system.

    We know who we are and what our worth is, and when people like Mr. Kass choose to voice their opinions, choosing to respond is a choice that is often hard to make. You made the right choice. I'm impressed, proud, and cannot wait to see what you do here on Chicagonow, baby!

  • In reply to Nicole Knepper:

    Thank you, Nicole!

  • Just two words: Slats Grobnik.

    Christine, you did a nice job channelling the spirit of Royko's occasional kind of journalism. As well you should! And yes, making up a satiric interview or conversation is an excellent form of journalism.

    And Kass, you totally forgot about Slats--and Royko's masterful use of the made up interview/conversation--which you NEVER should have as Royko's successor.

  • In reply to Bonnie McGrath:

    Thanks, Bonnie. I appreciate your support!

  • Damn Christine. Sounds like you need to get laid or something. I would offer my services but I'm not really sure what you look like. And I do have my standards. Carry on...

  • fb_avatar

    Hi, Chris!

    Cass doesn't understand satire because he's a conservative.

    There are only a few rules in life. One is that conservatives have no sense of humor. They sometimes laugh the way they've seen other people do it, but it isn't real laughter.

    They don't know what's funny because they cannot enter into anyone's heart, head or ears but their own. Shakespeare said something like this in Loves Labors Lost: "You consider yourself to be the life of the party because you think the joke is on your tongue, but it isn't. The joke is in the ear of the person who hears it. You have to go there to know what's funny."

    How can a person learn the art of the joke? Shakespeare answers, "You must go to the hospital every day for a year and a day, and make the dying laugh."

    Make the dying laugh... Tell them the jokes you've memorized, and try to figure out why they aren't really funny; try and err.

    Royko could make the dying laugh, and a few other things, too.

    But those who call themselves conservatives today are dull and humorless. They avoid the dying like the plague!

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    Christine Rice

    My most recent fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in THE URBANESS, THE GOOD MEN PROJECT, CELLSTORIES.NET and F MAGAZINE. My audio essays have been produced by Chicago Public Radio’s daily magazine EIGHT FORTY-EIGHT. I also manage an online lit mag (yes...another lit mag) called HYPERTEXTMAG.COM. My feature stories have appeared in the THE GOOD MEN PROJECT, CHICAGO TRIBUNE and Detroit’s METRO TIMES and METRO PARENT newspapers. I’ve been an adjunct professor in the Columbia College Chicago Fiction Writing Department since 1992, have chaired the Fiction Writing Department’s Young Authors writing contest since 2000 and am the faculty editor of Columbia College Chicago’s student anthology HAIR TRIGGER.

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