SOBRANS, September 1994
Volume 1, Number 1
to the award-winning
web page of
a running argument with the modern
state and its courtier media. I thank all our subscribers and benefactors for your
generous support in our modest experiment (shall we say) in
A word about my philosophy of
journalism: I dont like it. Journalism, that is.
To explain ...
This is a
time of political crisis. The crisis is due in large part to prevalent
misconceptions. The modern state has failed. Millions of people feel it acutely,
even angrily, but their discontent, though loud, is only half articulate. The
Republican Party is a phony opposition; the conservative movement has stalled.
The news media which have been called our national nervous system
only aggravate the problem.
Journalists, as witness the weekend talk shows,
have become ambitious courtiers. Trafficking in insider trivia, they want to be
players and even celebrities. They aspire to remake the country, politically and
even culturally; they assume a quasi-official tone and a style of third-person
omniscience. The New York Times has actually demanded editorially
that the Episcopal Church ordain women and the Catholic Church update its
reactionary moral teachings. Self-importance, anyone?
Gone are the days of the cheerfully humble
reporter sticking to the facts and keeping his opinions to himself. Todays
media forget how much they dont know. And as Richard Whately put it:
He who is unaware of his ignorance will be only misled by his
You may have noticed, for example, how
thoroughly the media omit any religious perspective on the news which
means that they miss the actual significance of the news for countless Americans.
They utter self-assured pronouncements about the Constitution from depths of
confusion. You don't have to be a Christian to feel that the media are partners of
the leviathan state, gnawing away at our freedom and the virtues that sustain it.
Some things that urgently need saying
arent being said, or just cant be said, in
mainstream journalism. Old taboos have fallen. But new taboos have
been built in their place, militating against straight talk and straight thinking.
Hence my monthly letter.
Now and then Im asked whether the
Clintons ever make me miss George Bush. Miss George Bush? Sometimes I miss
George III. Our democracy, we are told, is the fruit of struggles in which the
progressive side always (fortunately) conquered the forces of reaction, from the
American Revolution to the feminist movement. But what if our history has gone
awry? What if the progressive story line falsifies everything? We may need to
retrace our steps and deal frankly with sensitive topics. You might not think there
would be sensitive topics in an age when seven-year-olds talk about
condoms. Oh, brother!
My syndicated column gets spiked in many
newspapers, even some conservative papers, whenever I poke those topics. Many
readers ask where they can find my work. So, in addition to new material, each
issue of SOBRANS reprints several columns you may have
missed. Not that we should break taboos for the sake of breaking taboos; but the
full truth cant be told if some subjects have to be danced around like Uncle
Harrys drinking problem. The topic that is nervously avoided may be just
the one that needs our candor most.
So again, welcome. I hope I can repay your
support with a little clarification and even some amusement.
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