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MIKE MASTERSON: One man's humor

by Mike Masterson | July 7, 2020 at 3:54 a.m.

I read an amusing essay worth sharing the other day. At my graying age, I could relate to much of its message aimed squarely at the nature of today's society. The unnamed, clearly frustrated author's paraphrased opinion follows:

As a man he used to think he was pretty much a regular person. But he was born white into a two-parent household, which whether he liked it or not now supposedly makes him "privileged," a racist and responsible for slavery.

He's a fiscal and relatively moral conservative, which by today's standards makes him a "fascist" since he plans, budgets and supports himself.

He graduated high school, paid his way through college and has always held a job. Yet today he's told he's not where is today because he earned it, rather because he was "advantaged."

He also supports the Second Amendment, which makes him a de facto member of the "vast NRA gun lobby."

Because he thinks for himself, he regularly doubts much of what the so-called "mainstream media" tells him, which then makes him a "right-wing conspiracy nut."

Being proud of his heritage and our inclusive American culture classifies him as a "xenophobe." Believing in hard work, fair play and fair compensation according to each individual's merits qualifies him as an "anti-


Our system guarantees freedom of effort, not freedom of an outcome, or subsidies, which today makes him a "borderline sociopath."

And since he's proud of our flag, what it stands for, and the many who died to let it fly, and stands and salutes or covers his heart during the National Anthem, he "must be a racist."

Ill-considered memory

"Now go out into the world and treat everyone you meet exactly like you want them to treat you."

I've used that closing sentence to my column for almost a year now because I believe it. Sometimes I succeed. Other times, unfortunately not so much.

For example, I reflected in a recent column about an afternoon nearly 40 years ago that while reporting for a series of articles, I photographed the interior of a shack that contained a measuring scale for asphalt trucks leaving a plant in southern Arkansas.

In that picture, I inadvertently captured an object later identified by a scale master as a "shim." I'd never heard of a shim before that day and he explained in some detail how they can be used to alter and inflate accurate readings on a scale.

The only specifics about that afternoon I recalled after so many years was that it happened and how I'd learned the meaning of a shim.

I closed those comments with this line: "I learned all about the art of scale shimming that day, wondering how long our state had been paying for tons of asphalt that were never delivered. Surely that kind of fraud couldn't still be happening in 2020."

While that was my hope, I also realized afterwards I wasn't treating the many honest and respectable asphalt manufacturers like I'd want them to treat me, especially considering how their measuring methods undoubtedly have dramatically changed for the better over four decades.

It never dawned on me that by repeating my memory I might also be wrongly raising the question whether other manufacturers had shims of their own.

That's one danger writers face when they rely on distant memory for material. So today, I offer apologies to all the Arkansas asphalt manufacturers who haven't used scale-altering devices.

Incidentally, I'm writing this because, simply put, it's the right thing to do and what I hope another writer under similar circumstances would do for me. As I typed this last Friday, I had yet to speak to anyone connected with producing and delivering asphalt, although I did reach out to the Arkansas Asphalt Pavement Association office later that day.

Now go out into the world and treat everyone you meet exactly like you want them to treat you (while I keep trying to do my best).

One angry woman

An item the other day in the popular Harrison Police Department Log regularly published by the Harrison Daily Times was a brief report that reveals how deep the frustrations and anger caused by pervasive negativity have become for some, even here in ordinarily tranquil Harrison.

Clearly, the irate woman below is a candidate for a Valium but under no circumstances a concealed-carry permit.

"A woman called to report she had pulled out in front of another vehicle when leaving Mudslingers [coffee hut] and the other driver flipped her off," the item read. "She said she noticed the other driver stopped at the Dollar Tree, so she decided to stop and invite her to church. But she said the other driver approached her, stating that if she had a gun she would blow her head off. The caller said the other woman then grabbed her by the arm and left puncture marks. She said she would go to the HPD later to file a formal complaint, but she didn't show up."

Can't say as I blame her for choosing to not poke that angry hornet's nest, all things considered.


Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master's journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at


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