If I can’t understand you – you must be wong


Bill Brent


On November 18th the Late Andy Rooney spoke at Tufts’ University’s Fletcher School of International Law and Diplomacy.  While certainly falling short in terms of style and ability – Mr. Rooney had established himself as a latter day sequel to H. L. Mencken. He has several things in common with old HLM – he was a journalist, he was a reporter, he was an author, a social critic, a civil libertarian and both were atheists. Yet while HLM was certainly outspoken about his beliefs (or lack of them) – he never insulted those who did not think as he did.  He remarked “A skeptic as to all ideas, including especially my own, I have never suffered a pang when the ideas of some other imbecile prevailed” Mencken felt he should approach those with whom he disagreed “by assuming that his opponent is as decent a man as he is, and just as honest--and perhaps, after all, right."


The American left does not believe this, as Mr. Rooney elucidated with his last fateful gasps – The American left is just so bright, and so well educated – that should an idea conflict with one they have nurtured – then it’s the other fella who must be pedagogically impaired.


"I am an atheist, I don't understand religion at all. I'm sure I'll offend a lot of people by saying this, but I think it's all nonsense." Rooney told the Tufts audience - he went on to bleat Christian fundamentalism is a result of "a lack of education. They haven't been exposed to what the world has to offer."


You know – maybe they have been, and have made a choice based on free will and a clear understanding of the world and just what it has to offer. It’s not my choice, but I don’t pretend to tell others how they should live, or that they are stupid for not having reached the same conclusions I have.  I recall a move based on the Leopold and Loeb case called Compulsion.  In that film the Clarence Darrow character was played by Orson Wells. In real life Darrow was an outspoken atheist who spent a good deal of his declining years ranting against religion.  But the movie was drama, not real life, so at the end of the film, Wells makes a reference to God – when one of the defendants comments that such a reference seem strange coming from him, Wells replied “A lifetime of questioning, doesn’t mean I’ve come to any conclusions.”  Mr. Rooney, in the waning days of his tenure on this sphere did. And if you don’t agree with him, better enroll in some night classes.


There is another dramatization of a Darrow case – that being Inherit the Wind.  The Film version of that property featured Spencer Tracy in the Dorrow inspired role and deals with “Tennessee Vs. John Thomas Scopes” (AKA The Scopes Monkey Trial).  You can learn more than you want about the trial of the century at a great site: http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/scopes/scopes.htm

What most people walk away with is the idea that this trial was about evolution vs the bible, and perhaps on some level that may be true. Everyone had an agenda – Scopes, the court, Darrow, Bryan, Mencken and the Press in general.  But strip away the glitz and glamour and it all boils down to separation of church and state – and with a guilty verdict, separation won – In the public eye, however, separation lost.


Bryan’s core argument was sound – If public schools can not offer (teach) the theory of evolution as proposed in the book of genesis – they should not be permitted to offer (teach) a theory that contradicts it.  In other words, if my child can not be taught that my beliefs on evolution (or creation) are valid – then my child should not be taught that they are not valid.  And, as neither theory is proven, I find no small amount of merit in this argument.


I bring all this up to show that the American press has always done more than simply report – and when what is being reported on involves ideas and opinions that exist in dynamic contrast to those held by the media-powers-that-be – the press (the media) feels the need to belittle and ridicule.


You know what – I don’t need to be told what to think, I already know what I think – and given the facts, I can figure out the rest.  So just give me the facts, I know what to do with them.


For more on Rooney’s last stand ….