Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Thoreau, Limited Government, and the Times Record

Every once in a while I read an edition of the Brunswick Times Record and believe for a moment that they've published a parody issue. Such a stunt is an old memory from my college days.

I went to Rutgers College in New Jersey, where the student paper, called "The Daily Targum," was published Monday thru Friday. A few times a year, they'd put out a complete parody issue, and unless you were observant enough to notice that the masthead said "The Daily Mugrat," instead of the correct name, you got sucked in by it all, and it was great fun. I mean who looks at the Masthead of any paper to make sure it's what it was the day before?

Well, last week, the editors of the Times Record, in a heartfelt salute to June graduates in our area, reminisced about their own youth. Their editorial cited Henry David Thoreau as an inspiration, and in particular, an essay of his titled "Civil Disobedience." Here's a link:

Bad boy that I am, and a thoroughly non-liberally educated engineer, the title intrigued me. So I looked it up, hoping to broaden my appreciation of the great minds, even at this late juncture in my upbringing.

Well, you could just knock me over with a Frosty's twist or six. It turns out the opening passage of the essay reads as follows:

"I HEARTILY ACCEPT the motto, — "That government is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe, — "That government is best which governs not at all"; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have. Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient. "

This is a cherished essay of the Times Record opinion writer?

I don't have the professional credentials to know what cognitive dissonance means in the specific sense, but I'm pretty damn sure in my engineering mind that this is the phenomenon that the term was invented to describe.

The Times Record, whose featured columnists are Amy Goodman, widely recognized leftist radical; Paul Krugman, who believes Obama should have spent a good deal more in borrowed stimulus funds; Nicholas Kristof and Bob Herbert, both confirmed uber-liberals; and Douglas Rooks, a NY Times wannabe; all committed to the belief that "that Government is best which governs most?" And committed to the end of capitalism, free enterprise, and self-reliance as we know them, and their role in creating the greatest opportunity and the highest standard of living the world has ever kown? This Times Record wants me to believe that they revere the seminal Thoreau quote cited above?

The very same Times Record that gave us a Thomas Sowell column or two, and a David Brooks column or ten before 86'ing each, no doubt because a local true believer or two considered Sowell unacceptable because of his logical approach, and Brooks to be too conservative, even though he's about as conservative as Bill Maher is religious.

Is it any wonder so many who think critically have written off the Times Record? It's one thing to dismiss half of your potential readership by ideological adherence to one extreme on the political spectrum; it's quite another to take a position that simply doesn't wash with the established record. Even if the record is only two weeks long.

A memorable scene in "As Good As It Gets," one of my all time favorite movies, comes to mind. If you guess which one it is, reply with a comment. First person with the correct answer wins a cupie doll, autographed by Thoreau.

No comments:

Post a Comment