|Happy New Year|
BY BRUCE APAR
Don’t fool yourself. Once upon a very long time ago, according to Infoplease.com, “Ancient cultures, including those of the Romans and Hindus, celebrated New Year's Day on or around April 1. It closely follows the vernal equinox (March 20 or 21.) In medieval times, much of Europe celebrated March 25, the Feast of Annunciation, as the beginning of the new year.”
The conscious reason I did not consult Wikipedia on this matter is pertinent to the topic at hand: Fools and Foolishness. (I count myself squarely among the Fools, by the way: I’m heading into rehearsals for a Neil Simon play by that very title, courtesy of The Armonk Players and director Pia Haas. It’s about a fictional town in the Ukraine where the entire populace has been brainwashed into believing they are fools by dint of an evil Count’s curse.)
Infoplease doesn’t employ fools but professional researchers. Wikipedia is an amalgam of user (read: amateur) research. That’s not always a bad thing, but it’s not exactly always reliable either.
That’s evident to anyone who’s nursed both a headache and nausea while wading through the cesspool of user comments cowards (read: anonymous posters) litter online, where there dwell way down low anon-persons who attack and accuse without virtue of verifiable facts … or fairness … or the courage to confront their prey. They shoot slime from beneath rocks. Through their compulsive obsession with anonymity, they literally are para-sites who live a life of no account by ceaselessly commenting about those busy constructing.
Such fools do serve a purpose, if unwittingly. They help explain why the witty, good natured pranks of April Fools’ Days of yore have faded from glory. The alternate tag is All Fools’ Day, which we now have every day through the not-so-good offices of pussyfooting posters. They’ve cynically subverted the need for genuine pranks worthy of the rich legacy that is April Fools’ Day. They‘ve devalued pranks by cheapening them to rank name-calling as witless as it is gutless.
How’s this for an April Fools’ Day prank befitting our cyber-psycho times? All the nameless fools who attack others online will wake up April 1 to find their birth names replacing their puerile pseudonyms. What will they do then? Odds are turn tail and say, “Oh, I really didn’t mean it. It was all an April Fools’ joke. Ha Ha! Okay? Please?”
One fantasy scenario – certainly not mine -- might then find them on the wrong end of a roundhouse from someone they verbally attacked. And since responding to an attack might be considered self-defense – even outside Florida – no civil or criminal charges would stick. Theoretically speaking, of course.
What’s not theory, though, is that legal statutes governing communications channels from telephones to email to online comments have brought perpetrators before a judge on charges of extreme harassment. That means websites can be – and have been -- subpoenaed to identify anonymous posters by court order.