Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Who Needs Jack Lessenberry Columns

I must admit I never understood why the Star needed his column in the first place. If I wanted to read about what goes on in Michigan then I had the Detroit newspapers as an example where I could go to find out the information I needed.

I know about him primarily because he writes on the border file. Accordingly, his name pops up periodically when he writes about what is going on with the crossing. To say that he is anti-Moroun is probably an understatment as you shall read below. I can only recall one column that he's written about the border that was published in the Star.

He is an interesting fellow. According to him, he has
  • "a master's degree in journalism and has made a living doing various forms of it for more than 30 years."

He is also a is a professor of journalism at Wayne State University and according to the Director of the Journalism Program , Jack is

  • "Brilliant, knowledgeable, witty, sometimes sarcastic, and smarter than 98% of us."

I expect that as an American journalist and professor he is well versed in First Amendment rights under the US Constitution:

  • "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press."

Here is what he wrote in a column about a dispute involving lawyer Geoffrey Fieger and his dispute with some Michigan judges:

  • "Personally, I find the language repulsive and think it lowers the level of political discourse, and adds to the coarsening of our culture. Dorothy Parker would have found a much more elegant and memorable way to skewer a bunch of boobish judges.

    Yet people have a perfect right to say lots of things that make you, and me, squirm...

    But he has a constitutional right to call judges whose rulings he doesn't like whatever he wants, no matter how crude.

    So does everybody else."

Therefore, I found what he wrote about Helen Thomas in the Star quite interesting:

  • "On May 27, on Jewish Heritage Day at the White House, she told a blogger with a video camera that the Israelis should "get the hell out of Palestine," and go home to "Poland, Germany, America and everywhere else." He eventually posted it on the Internet.

    Then it went viral. What she said sounded like it questioned Israel's right to exist, and evoked dark memories of the Holocaust. Within two days her agent dropped her; she was uninvited as a commencement speaker, she lost her job, and plans for a gala 90th birthday celebration at the National Press Club were cancelled."

He called what she said the following:

  • "What she said was indefensible, regardless of what you think about Israeli policies. Her words were ugly, harsh, inappropriate."

He went on however to talk about the other side of her and ended the column quoting her and saying:

  • "The great joy of journalism is that it is a an education every day. You have to keep learning, and you can never let up. I just think of how lucky I am to be in the profession I love. And I have been so fortunate to have a job I love. We all know we are only as good as our last story, and every day I get a report card. You never "arrive."

    The tragedy is, as she might have known, you can suddenly flunk out, and when that happens, there is seldom any reprieve. I asked her once, when she was a mere 81 or so, if she'd ever retire. She looked surprised. "Me? I hope not! I want to die with my boots on." But then she paused, and shook her head. "You never know."

I did not see his rousing support of Helen Thomas and her right to free speech that we saw when he was defending Mr. Fieger. He wrote in another column but not in the Star:

  • "Helen Thomas has screwed up, big-time, and it is fine to be angry. But only if you remember that she is also the reason women today can join the National Press Club and the Gridiron. To err is human. Maybe we shouldn’t forget that forgiveness is, as well."

After the controversy, to her credit, Helen Thomas apologized and then resigned as a columnist for the Hearst newspaper group. However, the issue was this. Her comments, according to Jack:

  • "sounded like it questioned Israel's right to exist, and evoked dark memories of the Holocaust."

So what should one say about what Jack wrote in one of his recent columns about the Morouns:

  • "For whatever mysterious reason, he [Name of Senator] has vowed to kill the DRIC, and supports Matty building a new one.

    Virtually nobody else agrees ... except Matty's paid employees and kept politicians. And, of course, Nora. "My husband does homework every night and he is fighting two countries," she pleaded.

    Aw, c'mon, sweetheart. You ain't got nothing on Eva Braun. Why, her husband fought almost the whole world, and plotted feverishly every night too. The world also wanted to do him in.

    Well, OK, their marriage lasted only one day.

    Nora, by the way, is not the only person who thinks Matty is misunderstood. There are those who think he is not human at all, but the last living Eryops, a primitive amphibian that lived half in and half out of the water 300 million years ago. Eryops was between five and six feet long, weighed about 200 pounds, and had a large head. It was thought to be a slow-moving predator with many teeth and little, upward-turned eyes.

    Now I am not saying that I believe Matty Moroun is a prehistoric, slime-dwelling amphibian. Not at all. It's just that, well, we haven't seen his birth certificate."

"You ain't got nothing on Eva Braun," "her husband fought almost the whole world, and plotted feverishly every night too. The world also wanted to do him in," "their marriage lasted only one day."

Disgustng and disgraceful? Was his comment uncalled for and unneeded and doesn't it evoke the same kind of thoughts that the Thomas comment created?

Can we agree at least that

  • "What he said was indefensible, regardless of what you think about Moroun's position on the border crossing. His words were ugly, harsh, inappropriate."

Let's see what Jack wrote in the past about this kind of comparison being made:

  • "Think it’s outrageous to compare George Bush and Adolf Hitler? Two years ago, I would have thought the same thing. Hitler was a murderous psychopath who nearly destroyed the entire civilized world.

    Nobody in this country, I have long stoutly maintained, should ever, ever be compared to the Nazis."

Considering his own words, will Jack have the grace to follow what Ms Thomas did and apologize to the Morouns personally and then resign?