Do any high school students read this blog of mine? If so, here’s a little practice for the critical reading section: an actual television is to an empty box with a hole cut in front and buttons drawn on with crayon as an actual newspaper is to _______________.
That’s right! The Herald-Mail.
Are analogies even on the SAT anymore? Whatever. Here’s today’s Letter to the Editor:
Socialism is the evil that is destroying us
To the editor:
Socialism is evil. As it grew in Amerca[sic], it gradually regulated our industries out of existence and drove up health care costs. It corrupted people into looking for a free ride instead of working. It rewarded the breeders and the bureaucrats. It robbed the savers through artificially low interest rates and 14 percent inflation. People die every day from the disease of socialism because they lose jobs and health care.
Now, we are under the control of an administration that only wants to steal from the rich, so they say, but robs the middle class, too. The administration does not seek to repair America. It seeks to destroy America.
All that is necessary to defeat Obama, Pelosi and the rest is to identify what they are — adherents of an evil philosophy. They seek to destroy anything good simply because they envy it. Objectivism is the answer.
Obama is being treated like a loyal American who really wants to cut spending but he actually seeks to plunder America and distribute our wealth to Third World countries. It is that desire for “sacrifice” that got us into an expensive war all for the good of the Libyans.
It is time our media stopped protecting evil and started reporting on it.
Somebody took a road trip to see Atlas Shrugged.
By the way, have you read Roger Ebert’s review of that yet? It’s not as vicious as some of his more entertaining rants against the Twilight films or bothversions of I Spit on Your Grave, but is still a very harsh dismissal. Ebert writes about how geared up he was to see the film and use his review to attack the dopey philosophy expressed by its source material, and was disappointed when it turned out to be too terrible to even bother arguing with. A bit of a bummer for those of us who were looking forward to a sharp, clean takedown by Ebert, but at least the review contains the pithiest summary of objectivism I’ve ever encountered:
“I’m on board; pull up the lifeline.”
Anyway, about this idiot’s letter. Notice how much he asserts without citing a single source. He doesn’t even seem to acknowledge the need to provide evidence for his position, just drops declarations like “socialism is evil” and “objectivism is the answer” with the clueless faux authority of a religious fundamentalist, and all the flat, rhetorical ineptitude of his role model Ayn Rand.
The writer announces that socialism is evil, but he doesn’t attempt to make the case. How does he define socialism? Hell, for that matter, how does he define evil? Does any government infringement on the freedom of the marketplace count as evil? Child labor laws, food and drug and clean air standards designed to protect the consumer and the environment, anti-trust laws — are these examples of socialist evils? I suspect Doug Delmont would argue (or attempt to argue) they are, but only if forced to. Like many objectivists, Doug doesn’t seem interested in having a serious discussion wherein he would have to account for his claims and defend his philosophy. Why argue about it when he’s already been convinced? He just wants to preach the Rand disciple’s standard sermon about the evils of government and the utopian perfection of unbridled capitalism.
By Doug’s reckoning, socialists (or, if we’re describing the actual people, democrats) like Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi (who remains an object of hyperbolic hatred from the fundamentalist right even after losing her office of Speaker of the House) aren’t merely wrong or misguided. They are evil. The destruction of the United States is their conscious goal.
Why would American politicians, living in America, with their careers dependent on the approval of an American electorate, wish to destroy America? For the same reason Islamic terrorists on the other side of the planet wish to destroy America, apparently.
“They seek to destroy anything good simply because they envy it,” Doug writes. They’re villains! And not terribly well-written ones, at that. Christ, your average Spider-Man villain has a more credible motivation than the one Doug ascribes to the sitting President of the United States — and by extension those of us who voted for him. The way Doug tells it, “socialists” like Obama are the political equivalents of The Iron Sheik, who in the 1980s could call an avalanche of jeers and hisses down upon himself merely by taking the microphone and announcing in his thick Persian accent, “I am not American!”
So the hell with Doug, and anyone else who would rather seize the floor and filibuster than have a serious conversation. Doug’s not the only problem with this letter. There’s also the newspaper that printed it.
Say what you want about the New York Times. Attack the bias of its op-ed pages, remind us all of the integrity-eroding scandals of the recent past — all perfectly fair. The fact remains, however, that the Times at least has some basic standards governing what it will print, and what it will not. If you want to see your letter to the editor published in the New York Times, you have to write it in regards to a particular article published within the last week, and you have to have something substantive to say in response to that article — an argument, a correction, an amplification. Otherwise, save your time.
The Herald-Mail evidently has no such policy. Loud, dumb, generic anti-Obama rants are just as likely to be printed as measured responses to front page articles. The only difference between a typical Herald-Mail letter to the editor and the fuck-stupid ramblings found in Mail Call is that the letter is signed.
My objection to the printing of Doug’s letter has nothing to do with his position or his philosophy. Work a little algebra on what Doug wrote, swap out “socialism” for “capitalism” or “Obama and Pelosi” for “Boehner and Bachmann.” Does it sound any more intelligent? It’s not the stupidity of what Doug is expressing that’s the problem; it’s the stupidity of how he’s expressing it. He offers no support for his claims; he never gets around to actually identifying any specific problems, let alone suggesting possible solutions; there’s no attempt to place his letter into any sort of a context.
Newspapers ought to give their readers a voice, and a chance to talk back. Good newspapers know how to do that without indiscriminately handing out megaphones to morons.