Debate News From Jamaica

Posted By on September 24, 2017

“Difficile est non scribere satyram”

Some months past your editor had occasion to call attention to a certain post office box in Jamaica from which he has in the past received intelligence.

They say that lightning never strikes twice, but actually, there are many people – and I am  like them in many ways – who have been struck not only twice, but three, four, five or even six or seven times by lightning, so that by now they are all miss-wired and discombobulated, and have also, somehow, lived to tell of it.

Yes, it has happened: lightning has struck again! Only this time it was a phone call, not an email, from Jamaica. I immediately recognized that the call was from Jamaica by the 876 prefix, but the caller was and remains utterly unknown to me except that he introduces himself, as you shall see, as Professor True Fact.  – Editor Eddy

I picked up the phone.

“Hello?” It was a very distinguished and colorfully ostentatious voice, a little high in the register, sounding full of merry England after a couple of good shots of Scotch on the rocks, via Jamaica: “This is Professor True Fact. If you know what’s good for you, you will retract what you wrote about me. You totally misconstrued the sophisticated rhetoric of my usage of ‘you.’ I did not mean, ‘You, yourself’ when I said that if you believed in gremlins you were like a holocaust denier.  I didn’t even know that you believed in gremlins when I wrote it. So, you see, it’s all a big misunderstanding, caused by your miss-perceptions of what I meant. I meant somebody else. You really should read better.

Eddy. I see.

True Fact. Not at all! What I meant, in fact,  as was obvious to my grad students, is that people who don’t like my facts are like holocaust deniers, not that they are holocaust deniers.  There’s no offense, none in the world, really…its my job as the Provost of a University to say these things and yes, it is a burden, heavy weighs the head and all that….

Eddy. Ouch.

True Fact. But the truth is, we’ve settled it all here for you in Oxbridge, Ed, and the bit we have not have solved in Oxbridge has been solved by our sister college at Camford. We are less sure of Edinburgh, they are forever counting things up there and that’s always worrisome. But, no need for any further angst! Stiff upper lip and all that, old chap.  Shakespeare was either Shakespeare, or he was Shakespeare by another name, or possibly even Shakespeare-after-all, but we’re not so sure about that just yet. In any case, it matters not that denial lives on in the hearts of evil men.  The most important fact is that my cabby won the debate. We real scholars can go home and take a break now.  I even re-tweeted him, what a hero, he is like one of your U.S. President’s best men, a true expert from humble background. He didn’t miss a beat. There he was, maneuvering those tight London corners with only one hand on the wheel of his bronzed Lexus while he showed how much more easily he could’ve made out that Elvis Presley wrote the works as anyone could argue they were written by the 17th Earl of Falconbridge. And he’s a professional cab driver. He delivered a masterpiece of literary detection. That’s how easy it was to confute the Falconbridge theory you Americans keep yammering on about. As you can imagine, I was polishing my nails all through the debate.

Eddy.  Wow. Gosh.  Who would have predicted that? Can you explain now?

True Fact. Now? O, no, I can’t do that, not now, not now anyway, not on the internet. I’m driving now.  My cabby, he’s the one who can do it. I don’t know anything about this Falconbridge chap, but my cabby was all up on him. You should’ve heard him. He was amazing. He had me really believing it was Elvis. That Falconbridge was such a rotten bastard they wouldn’t even let him into the knights of the garter. But I can’t explain it very clearly.  I’m still learning that part.  I wouldn’t say it was, actually, Elvis, but pointing out moral equivalence and historical plausibility is an important job for educators. Besides, facts are facts, we all know that, and people accepting alternative facts, well, that’s dangerous and they really shouldn’t do it!  Face it, there are only a limited number of facts about Shakespeare. I did give him a nice tip for the idea, though.

Eddy. Can we get him on the internet? We could start an “Elvis Wrote Shakespeare” website and make tons of money.

True Fact.  Well, come to think of it, maybe he was just citing his source. No, I don’t have his number. Sorry the slip just slipped my mind. I really did give him a really nice tip, though, and I didn’t say anything at all about the tip on twitter.

Eddy. Really? Why not?

True Fact. O, you know, Matt. 6.1-4, that sort of thing. Are you going to retract, or not?


Yes, I admit it. I hung up on True Fact right at that point, right after he mentioned Matt. 6.1-4. I thought it would be a thoughtful time to end the conversation before getting myself into even more trouble than I already was after picking up the phone. I’d given Professor True Fact a fair sea-room to comment on his own condition; what can we say, he was feeling plucky after the debate; it seemed an apt opportunity to hold the mirror up to nature.

About the author

Roger Stritmatter is a native liberal humorist who lives in Baltimore, Maryland. Contrary to rumor, he does not live on North Avenue. He does, however, work on North Avenue. A pacifist by inclination, one of his heroes is John Brown. But he thinks that Fredrick Douglass, another of his heroes, made the right decision. Stritmatter's primary areas of interest include the nature of paradigm shifts, the history of ideas, forensic literary studies, MS studies, renaissance literature, and the history of the Shakespearean question, the latter a field in which he has published extensively.


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