LAST week I gave the Federal Government a spray for deciding towns with populations of less than 200 are no longer towns.
Now, it's my media colleagues' turn.
A story on News Limited websites last week told of a UFO sighting in a "sleepy seaside village on Australia's east coast".
Where the hell does "sleepy" come from?
And what exactly is a sleepy village?
Why is it not a town?
Cardwell, in far northern Queensland, the town that is apparently attractive to aliens, has a population of about 1200 people.
Does that automatically qualify it as "sleepy''?
Geez, we are kicking into the wind trying to defend small towns when we then roll out the label "sleepy".
Do the residents lay about the street snoring?
Does no one rise before midday?
Does everyone walk around in a stupor?
There's more chance of finding each of those occurring in a large city than a country town.
Face it. It is a dumb label.
And it is a clichéd stereotype.
Yet it happens constantly.
The Sydney Morning Herald recently ran the headline "Sleepy town shocked by shooting massacre''.
It referred to Newtown in Connecticut, where 26 people, including 20 children, were slain last month.
Newtown has a population of 27,000 (which even the SMH pointed out in its online story).
That makes Newtown about the same size as Warrnambool.
That story ran on Fairfax's network of regional online mastheads, including The Wimmera Mail Times, at Horsham, and The Gippsland Times, based in Sale.
Horsham and Sale have populations of about 14,000 - roughly half the size of Newtown.
These two cities - yes, Horsham and Sale are cities - would hate anyone describing them as sleepy.
So best not to brand others.
Even the Bombala Times in southern NSW carried the story.
For crying out loud, Bombala has a population of about 1200.
The SMH was at it again with its reference to the "sleepy village" French actor Gerard Depardieu chose to make home to avoid high taxes in France.
The Belgian town of Nechin has a population of 2800.
That's roughly Rochester or Euroa.
On what basis did the SMH decide Nechin deserved the title "sleepy"?
It might be a "happening" place. Especially with a movie star swanning around.
The UK's MailOnline gave the same treatment to the "sleepy village" of Herne.
As far as I can work out - seeing it has an Echuca-Moama-type thing going on with the next town - Herne has a population of about 7500 (Ararat).
The MailOnline story even mentioned a protest in the town mustered 700 people.
Not many "sleepy villages" could do that.
Back home, and The Age declared Lakes Entrance a "sleepy seaside village".
Lakes Entrance is not exactly sleepy at the moment.
Omeo, in Gippsland, was also given the "sleepy" treatment, again by the SMH. Sure, Omeo can be quiet.
But so can Glenferrie Rd in Hawthorn on a mid-week winter's night.
The problem is that the media uses the "sleepy" label without thinking what it really means.
In the same way every hot day is a "scorcher", every AFL player is a "star" (not to mention Collingwood's "heroes") and nowadays someone is "tasked" to perform a, well, task.
Towns can be quiet.
They can be remote.
They can be small.
And they can sometimes be boring.
Mmmm, perhaps I'll find a quiet main street in a small town and sleep on it.