In the years after I first read about it, I was enough of a bore about the concept in the editorial suite of The State that one April 1st, at the instigation of then-Publisher Ann Caulkins, my colleagues played a truly elaborate April Fool’s prank on me that was entirely based on some supposed new research debunking subsidiarity. It was probably the most esoteric, nerdy prank ever played on anyone in South Carolina history. The sort of thing the geeks on “The Big Bang” might play on each other, only with them it would be about physics instead of political philosophy — some knee-slapper having to do with the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, perhaps….
In the end, the joke didn’t work out, because I was too impatient to play along. It went like this: We gathered for our morning (or perhaps it was the weekly, since the publisher was there, eager to participate in the gag) editorial board meeting, a session in which all sorts of issues were thrown onto the table for discussion so we could discuss and arrive at positions for editorials.
As we started, Cindi Scoppe produced a long, dry-looking document, bound in the kind of folder we used in school for term papers, that she said contained some important new findings that completely debunked the validity of subsidiarity. She said they were all sure I’d be interested. She urged me to read it immediately.
I got irritated instead of interested. We had a lot of issues to talk about, things we needed to write about. And they wanted to sit there and watch me read something and have my mind magically changed on something this complex? It was absurd anyway; there was no way this could, in a few minutes’ reading, disprove something like that.
But they urged me, “Just look over it!” and “Just scan it briefly!” Which was even more ridiculous, because a mere scan would never convince me of such a thing. I kept putting it down and trying to move on, but finally Cindi said something like, “Just look at the last page!”
So, in order to end it, I did. And of course, it said, “April Fool’s.”
Yeah, OK. Ha, and also ha.
I feel a bit bad for ruining my friends’ fun, but there it was. It had probably been funny when they first thought of it. And it was nice that it was so personalized, so esoteric, so very much something that would appeal only to the kind of dweeb who is on an editorial board. It was, in its way, thoughtful towards me and who I was.
Which reminds me of an old poster I found in my closet while cleaning up the other day. I didn’t go to the conference, but I liked the poster. I’ll see if I can roll it out and take a picture of it…