Sean Scully

Sean Scully is editor of the Napa Valley Register. You can reach him at 256-2246 or

We are on the verge of a national crisis, the dimensions of which are not yet clear.

We are facing what could be a critical shortage of umbrage. Someday, in the not too distant future, when you are looking for umbrage, you could well find the cupboard is bare.

Why? Because people keep taking it.

Wantonly. Profligately. Heedlessly. Voluminously. At the drop of a hat, even.

Some people have suggested using alternatives so we don’t run out of umbrage.

Perhaps we could turn to “exception.” Or begin using that most unrefined of commodities, “offense.”

But to me, this is just shifting the problem, delaying the day of reckoning. After all, people seem likely to continue their reckless habit of taking these things without a second thought.

The solution could be government regulation, but that could lead to socialism. Perhaps we could turn to market forces, let the Invisible Hand regulate the trade in umbrage, but that might well lead to the concentration of umbrage in the hands of the 1 percent (already, they control 36.4 percent of all umbrage in circulation).

No, the solution is not easy. Our greatest minds must be employed in developing an answer.

But there is another threat looming. Even as we face a possible shortage of umbrage, we are seeing an ominous oversupply in another product: shame.

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A thick film of shame covers everything; Shame on our government. Shame on our corporations. Shame on our civic institutions. Shame on you, and shame on me.

Perhaps the misuse of umbrage and the torrent of shame are related. The science is unclear: some people claim it is a natural cycle, others believe that human-driven umbrage use leads to unsustainable levels of shame.

Whatever the cause, shame is clearly a major problem. In the Napa Valley Register’s comment section alone, shame appears in nearly 2,000 submitted comments, more than half a percent of the all-time total.

Umbrage, meanwhile, while appearing explicitly in a mere eight Register comments, but taking it is a clear and undeniable subtext in almost all of the remaining 240,000.

Clearly something needs to be done. If we do not act, we will leave our future generations with a debilitating shortage of umbrage even as they drown in a sea of shame.

Join me in this effort – it is a thing up with which we must not put. If we don’t act together, shame on us all.

You can reach Sean Scully at or 256-2246. Follow him on Twitter @NVREditor.



Sean has been editor of the Napa Valley Register since April of 2014. His previous credits include the Press Democrat, The Weekly Calistogan, The Washington Times and Time and People magazines.

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