You love us, you hate us, we're fine with that
A little while back, when The Sun introduced three new sections, my young colleague Julie Scharper was taken aback by a blast of snarky comments on the Internet. So I am going to undertake explaining why hating the paper amounts to a cottage industry in Baltimore.
Before her time at the paper — before mine, as well — a gentleman named Rudolph Handel complained that The Sun had published inaccurate information about him. He had picketed a store that he said had sold him a defective television. His gripe with the paper was that the article said that the store had given him a new set as a replacement, when he had received a used one.
Being accustomed to picketing, he took up his station at the corner of Calvert and Centre streets, with a sign that read “SUN LIES” on one side and ‘SUN ERRS” on the other. He remained there, off and on, for sixteen years, and only death ended his campaign. If, however, he is now walking those streets of gold between those walls of jasper, he may be proclaiming ‘SUN LIES” “SUN ERRS” to the heavenly host.
Another example was a local gentleman of some standing who despised The Sun with such a hard, gemlike flame for its liberal editorial stands that at his death his family refused to allow the paper to publish an obituary. No doubt he and Mr. Handel have found much to chat about.
The tradition of hating The Sun is a robust one.
I wasn’t privy to the snark about the new Tuesday business section, so I can only guess at the grounds of objection. No doubt there are still those who find the paper too lefty for their tastes, and I will not shock their systems by describing what a genuinely leftist publication would look like. Some, perhaps, look to the brave new post-print epoch and are irritated that The Sun has not turned its face to the wall and expired.
But my private belief is that sneering at the local fishwrap is an inverted form of municipal pride. No doubt people feel a mild contempt for the local television news operations, but they do not grow apoplectic about them. No, it’s the newspaper that still defines something essential about the local identity. There are those — bless you all — who still read and value the paper. And the haters strike me as being very much like lapsed Catholics, who may vent hostility toward the church but whose identities remain defined by it.
Love us, if you like; hate us, if you must. We forge on.