Columnists Anonymous will meet this Friday at 7pm in the Town Hall, downtown Jo’burg. Please remember to bring papers proving you were unfairly dismissed after merely speaking your mind on matters relating to race, religion or sexuality.
An independent observer will go through the papers with you to see if maybe you’ve gone ‘too far’. You probably did. Acknowledging this is progress. Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery and after this the healing can begin.
Recent events in columnisting have given columnists clear guidelines on how far is ‘too far’ on a number of sensitive topics.
Saying you don’t like gays and lesbians is OK. Bringing animals into the picture is going ‘too far’.
Saying girls from the Cape are the future is fine. Mentioning teeth is going ‘too far’.
Launching into a tirade against editors is excellent. Sketching scenarios involving tyres is going ‘too far’.
At the meeting on Friday out-of-work columnists will gather in a circle in the middle of the Town Hall. Marie biscuits and Ricoffy will be freely available on a table to the left.
After welcoming everyone, a moderator will point to the door where a line can be seen clearly drawn on the floor. The moderator will ask the columnists if they saw the line. The columnists will say no. The moderator will say, “Exactly, you crossed the line and you didn’t even know it”. The session can then begin.
Columnists will be asked to write a 600-word essay recalling some fun memories they have of kindergarten school. If a buzzer goes off, it means one of the columnists has gone ‘too far’ and everyone must drop their pens. The columnist in question will greet everyone with “Hi, I’m so and so and I’m a columnist” and proceed to read out loud what he or she wrote.
Other columnists will be encouraged to stop the person whenever they hear something that upsets them. If no one says anything throughout — missing words such as “see-saw everything” and “can’t even teach her husband to stay loyal” — the moderator will launch into a short lecture outlining boundaries on the playground pointing to the line at the door at regular intervals.
At no point will anyone be scolded or made an example of. Columnists will merely be reminded of the Three Pillars of Sensitivity (race, religion, sexual preference) and told that with proper help and rehabilitation anyone can make it back onto the circuit.
A plate for donations towards the Bullard-Roberts Fund for lost cases will do the rounds.
The meeting will then be adjourned and everyone will be asked to go home and write a 500 word letter to their grandma returning next week with the letter and their grandma. Marie biscuits and Ricoffy will still be freely available on a table to the left.
If you have any queries regarding the meeting, contact the organiser and author of this post. He doesn’t have a column but he reads a lot of them and would like to see people who write edgy columns keep on doing it without losing their jobs simply because they went ‘too far’.