“Depth sounding refers to the act of measuring depth; it is often referred to simply as sounding. Sounding is finding the depth of a given point in a body of water.”

Welcome aboard, Shreveport-Bossier, to Sounding Off! This is a completely unscientific and shallow measurement of our area’s political and social flotsam and jetsam, and the aggregate effect it has on our quality of life. If you will allow me, I’d like to take the ship off our usual course by just a few degrees. Not a radical departure, but a worthwhile side trip. Pray that you’ll forgive the irregularity, just this once.

Now, dear friend, your captain has never claimed to be a master of the high seas, or of low seas, or of rivers or creeks, or of much of anything really. It’s true, I fancy myself an adequate observer and chronicler of the world and its foibles, frustrations, and triumphs. However, I admit just as readily that nothing I log here is of any crucial or long term consequence. I think the descriptors “unscientific and shallow” should indemnify well enough, but perhaps I’ve been remiss in not establishing my argument before now.  So here we are.

Alas, it seems that, on occasion, a fellow sailor lacks full appreciation of our cause in particular, or of the 4th Estate in general. I am not a reporter. I lay no claim to the rights and privileges that are afforded career journalists, those hard-nosed truth-seekers who assume the risks associated with upsetting dominant narratives and calling out the incompetence, malfeasance, and shortcomings of governance and power. I am an opinion writer at best (I model this column after “The Needle” by Perry Stein and Charles Pierce’s work for Esquire, among others). I do my best to identify, reflect on, and give voice to under-the-radar victories. I try to point out the butterfly before the hurricane. This column is what a *facepalm* might say could a *facepalm* speak.

So you can imagine my bemusement in learning of unfortunate, ill-conceived, misguided efforts to (I guess) weaponize Sounding Off! The particulars here aren’t important, but the presupposition that an opinion writer or editorialist, or comedian, or novelist, or researcher, or anyone else who expresses, via the written word, the sentiments and zeitgeist of his or her community, may ever fear retribution precipitated by shadowy, tiptoeing cartoon villains or petty busybody bureaucrats IS PRECISELY WHY WE WRITE IN THE FIRST PLACE. This is the people’s first, sometimes best, and often only method for ensuring accountability of authority. We, atomically and in the aggregate, buttress liberty and hold back tyranny. This is not hyperbole. Anyone with the most basic liberal arts education knows this. Anyone with a healthy dose of scepticism towards the cynical entitlement of the status quo understands this. A backwards-gazing dead-ender fails the test, and will betray themselves to anyone who pays attention. But like my parent said to me more times that I care to recall, “We aren’t angry at you, we’re just disappointed…”

Although I do not claim the rights or the responsibilities of a hard news man, I am due, at minimum, the opportunity to make and defend an argument, present it, and know from whence dissent, disagreement, or dissatisfaction comes. Out loud and in the daylight. Rest assured, my engagement will be sincere, vigorous, and total. It is the charge I accept in exchange for your patronage, dear reader, and I do not take it lightly.

Consider the fact that I, a black man, wrote, on multiple occasions, highly critical words about the outgoing Caddo District Attorney, a man who seems to have declared it his life’s work to kill as many people as possible, in a jurisdiction that incarcerates and kills more black men than practically (if not literally) anywhere else on Earth. Let’s keep a sense of scale here. Comparatively, someone tossing banana cream pies over the transom is not a mortal threat.

An extra ration of rum for every soul aboard! Giving away booze seems to be the only way I can get any of you to act right.

And now, as we reset our bearing and recalculate our course, a couple of totally random nuggets…

Theory: If you multiply the field of Republican presidential nominees by the square root of -1, the answer is the Wu Tang Clan. Donald Trump = ODB * root -1. Lindsey Graham = Cappadonna * root -1. Solve for the rest of the Wu. Show your work.

Invention: Funnel Slaw – made of slivers of the same dough used to make funnel cake, deep fried and covered in powdered sugar and fruit compote, but able to be consumed with a fork. It’s a dessert slaw. THIS SHOULD EXIST.

I’ve received more accolades from more corners of the SBC than I could have ever imagined. I am humbled by your encouragement. I thank you. Expect more and better.