Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fractured Fairy Tale: The Watchdog

Yes boys and girls, I know that it's been a while, but fear not, for it's time for another Fractured Fairy Tale. Time once again for one of those cautionary tales of life and politics in this crazy, mixed up world around us. Much like the first fairy tale that I wrote for this blog, this one is an original, if cautionary tale of "what if" that may very well soon become a "what now". I hope you enjoy it. 

Once upon a time there lived a man named John Q. Public. There was nothing at all remarkable about Mr. Public. John (and I'm sure he'd let us call him that) did have one thing that set him apart however, it was his watchdog. 

 Now this dog was not really owned by John in the strictest sense of the word, as he had never actually purchased it. The truth of the matter was that he had simply started feeding this dog upon discovering it, eventually naming the animal Newspaper. 

Newspaper, liking the attention that he got from John (and more especially the feeding), adopted John Q Public as its master, and was soon performing the duties of watchdog where John was concerned. Now Newspaper was never the most attractive of dogs, though occasionally he cleaned up rather well. Neither was he particularly well-behaved, sometimes serving his own or the needs of others as well as those of his master. 

Newspaper was in fact an often ill-tempered mutt, treating John with measured disdain (much like a cat, come to think of it). In fact if anything, Newspaper behaved more like a junk yard dog than anything else; good enough at being a watchdog, but just as likely to bite the hand that fed it as it was to snap at that of strangers and villains. 

Time passed, and Newspaper had been around for some time. Some had begun to say that he was getting a bit long in the tooth (if you know what I mean), and no longer able to hold up his end of the bargain. John of course, was no youngster either, though he often acted like one. Quite frankly, he was reaching that age where one begins to think about turning things over to the next generation, and if the truth were known they didn't much care for his watchdog. 

Much like the wayward child that he had become, John had begun to pay less attention to the care and feeding of his long-time adopted pet. This treatment did nothing good for the health and well being of his watchdog, and as a consequence it began to look even thinner and shabbier than usual. 

As time passed, an almost starving Newspaper began to become a bit resentful of this treatment. It howled at its sorry lot in life and tended to snap at anyone who came near it. While never completely leaving off at its watchdog post, even Newspaper had to admit that it wasn't doing the job that it once did. 

Now one day, one of the worst of the miscreants that this watchdog had kept at bay crept forward once again to work his mischief. This ill-mannered neighborhood bully had been hanging around for years, often trying to do ill to Mr Public; but with Newspaper on the job, he was never really able to succeed. 

This nefarious individual (let's call him Government) was well known as one of the worst of criminals. A strong-armed thief who was often known to take money at the point of a gun, a loan shark who lent money that always had strings attached, and a bully who loved to throw his weight around in the neighborhood; Government was most well known for his operation of a massive protection racket and for running the biggest Ponzi scheme that had ever been seen. In other words, Government was a pretty nasty guy.

With the lack of attention from his adopted owner and a hunger that was soon bordering on starvation, Newspaper finally started sniffing around at the treats that had been dangled for years in the outstretched hand of Government. Knowing that continued refusal of these morsels might portend the end of its days (while perhaps scarcely realizing that accepting them could do likewise), this watchdog began to whimper over the potential of such offered nourishment. 

Long at the service of its adoptive master John Q Public, Newspaper didn't know what else to do if he was to survive to continue in his duties. While still somewhat loyal to his master's needs, Newspaper was equally interested in his own survival. And so there we see them, much like the scene of Kevin Costner extending a bit of jerky to the wolf 'Two Socks' in "Dancing With Wolves". Government now carefully extends the hand of potential survival to Newspaper, and this once faithful watchdog creeps ever closer to accepting it.


I know, I know, this is one hell of a way to end a Fairy Tale. The truth of the matter is we don't know the end of this story yet. Quite frankly, the fate of Newspaper, Government, and John Q Public are hanging in the balance right now. If this self-appointed watchdog of our freedoms begins to accept anything from government, there is little doubt that it will be unable to properly perform this long-held function in the future. If it doesn't however, there is real doubt that this watchdog may be around much longer. For good or ill, the end of this tale has yet to be written. For newspapers, for government, but especially for the Public; these are perilous times indeed!

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