Thursday, January 05, 2006


Here's a favorite quote by H. L. Mencken.
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
Very appropriate.

Chuck Colson writes a column this week responding to a very banal column at the New York Times. The New York Times asks the question would H. L. Mencken be a blogger where he alive now. Thomas Vincigerra quickly concludes that yes, he might very well have been a blogger, and then spends three pages proposing fictional posts for said blog.

One of those posts reads as follows.
Dec. 21

Sanity has triumphed in Dover, Pa., where the boobs who tried to foist intelligent design on the local lyceums have been soundly thrashed. Judge Jones, the Bush-appointed archon who made the decision, went so far as to lambaste the school board's "breathtaking inanity." Would that this victory were permanent. It will take more than jurisprudence to retire the forces of ignorance permanently. Meantime, we can only hope that they engage in less egregious forms of buncombe - like installing the Ten Commandments in public squares, or speaking in tongues.
This naturally has Colson in a tizzy, because he sees it as an attack on Christians and Christianity.
Of course, Mencken referred to Christians as “rustic ignoramuses” when he wasn’t calling us worse things. But he also had insulting things to say about women, Blacks, and Jews—comments that today we recognize as both ignorant and offensive. To its credit, the Times would never dream of trying to be funny by calling Blacks and women mentally inferior, or by imitating Mencken’s viciously anti-Semitic comments. But when it comes to Christians, all bets are off. And like any bigot, the newspaper that celebrates itself for politically correct tolerance and exquisite sensitivity can’t seem to recognize its own blind prejudice.
Now a few points.

1. This column is pretty banal. I mean if it inspires people to seek out the prickly genius of Mencken, all for the better, but it's not very good.

2. Mencken's most famous collection of columns were the one's he wrote about the Scopes Monkey trial. There has been a recent case in Dover, Pa., involving the teaching of Evolution in the Class room. If you are going to do this banal column, writing a fictional blog post about the Dover case is pretty obvious.

3. Calling people who support teaching Intelligent Design in the class room (rather than Science) Boobs is not an attack on Christians. It's an attack on Boobs who happen to be Christians. There are plenty of Christians who do not favor forcing their religious beliefs to be taught in the class room.

Anyway I feel an emotion, presumably common to H. L. Mencken, to wit, annoyance with the whole situation.

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