Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Crazy voices

One of the joys of being a newspaper editor is that all sorts of crackpot opinions show up at the door. For example, every week I get a copy of Regent University grad Nathan Tabor's column. It's often thoughtless and occasionally ridiculous, filled with unexamined assumptions and vague imitations of arguments. But this week's entry sets a new standard.

Start with the second sentence, which insists that liberals "want to turn criticism of same sex marriage into a crime." Now, really, what could possibly be further from the truth? No liberal this side of Stalin would seriously argue that people who criticize same-sex marriage should be imprisoned. Tabor expresses the opposite of an idea, a negative force that subtracts knowledge from the universe.

In paragraph four, he quotes with approval a Georgia House member who says, "If we could liken the Internet to a mall, a place where you can go in and purchase goods and services, and also liken it to a library, a place where you can go and pull a book, pull a resource, and obtain some information, why would we tax a person upon entering a mall or why would we tax a person upon entering the library?"

We don't tax a person upon entering a mall because malls are privately owned entities that wish to attract people into their stores. We then tax the land the mall sits on, tax the profits and, in many states, tax each sale. We don't tax a person upon entering the library because we already have taxed the person to pay for the library. The public owns the library, and the public decides the price of entry. Neither case is comparable to internet access.

In paragraph six, Tabor dredges up the "limousine liberal" cliche. Are there no "limousine conservatives"? No, because conservatives, no matter what their mode of transportation, are ordinary folk. Only liberals get the "limousine" label because applying the term in any other way would require considering whether the cliche actually means anything. That way lies madness.

In the last paragraph, Tabor makes a daring claim: He alleges that he is thinking. However, he provides no evidence. Instead, he writes that "some public officials on the local, state, and federal level are determined to tax anything that sits, moves, or beats the liberal news networks to the punch on breaking news stories. Mainstream journalists have said for a long time that bloggers represent a threat to traditional journalism—and so it only stands to reason that reporters and their buddies on Capitol Hill want to make life difficult for Joe Average Internet User."

So internet taxation is a conspiracy between liberal elected officials and mainstream journalists aimed at shutting up "Joe Average." Tabor is wrong. We're happy to hear from Joe Average. It's Nathan Tabor who needs to shut up.


Vince said...

I better tighten up the spam filter on the email. Sounds like we'll getting the old "modem tax" hoaxes that proliferated in the late '80s.

Aside from the nonsense of his column, nothing of which I haven't read in bits and pieces elsewhere, it does provide a launching point for a discussion on the public perception of "reliable news sources." With the popularity of blogs, and the ease of launching one, how does traditional journalism compete in the market place of trustworthiness?

Jim Larson said...

Read your front page article. Nice Pease.