Letters Oh dear, oh dear. Our piece yesterday, snappily entitled US Irish in St Patrick's Day Iraqi banner outrage, has itself provoked a fair bit of reader outrage.
Apparently, so great was our collective St Patrick's Day hangover that we'd failed to notice our maps of County Monaghan and Iraq were reversed, and were suggesting that allied forces bomb a defenceless and genteel corner of the Emerald Isle.
Amid the tsunami of indignant emails were a couple of noteworthy contributions, not least this from Charles Manning:
According to the National Geographic Society, most Americans could not find the North Pole on a globe. Is comes as quite a surprise to me that they are able to notice the similarity of map shapes.
That's a little unfair since a good percentage of Irish Americans seem to be able to spot a likeness of Iraq even through a Guinness-fuelled haze. In fact, it's the Vulture Central graphics department which is geographically challenged. Or is it? Robert Grizzard has a keen eye:
What a subtle piece of satire you wrote at https://www.theregister.com/2003/03/20/us_irish_in_st_patricks/. I'd wager very few got it.
Correct. Cue Dan Halford who feels you've been reading too much Private Eye :).
Thank you Dan. Now for the full explanation. UK satire publication Private Eye has for years been running a "lookalike" strand in its letters page. Any two celebrities with even a passing resemblance will be presented side-by-side, traditionally with an accompanying letter stating something to the effect of: "I wonder if your readers have noticed the uncanny resemblance between X and Y. I wonder if they are by any chance related? I think we should be told."
Naturally, picture Y will be captioned as X, and vice versa. It's an old chestnut, to be sure, but one which will mean nothing to our readers from across the pond. Robert Clayton notes:
Given that the map on the right clearly says "Baghdad" in the middle, I assume you're using that staple of British wit, to wit, "irony." Please be reminded that Americans, in particular, don't understand "irony." You should put a footnote somewhere to at least tell us that you're being ironical, so we can understand you, and maybe even laugh at the joke.
Fair enough. We apologise to our non-UK readers and have decided to dust off a graphic we haven't used for some time. Those from beyond the bounds of our sceptred isle can rest assured that if we do use Brit in-jokes involving irony, sarcasm or any form of indigenous humour, this will in future be clearly flagged, as shown here.
And so, having cleared that up, let's get back to the burning issue of the day, i.e: Do we spare Monaghan an aerial onslaught or is it time to unleash the stealth bombers? Here's the view of our man on the ground, Sean MacMhaoinigh:
Being a Monagahan native, I cannot agree more, the one on the left is the one to be bombed.
Steve Warren dropped us a line to ask: "How is this related to IT?" We're working on that one. ®