Sunday, July 24, 2005

Voice of the (Stupendously Ignorant, Intellectually Indolent and Just Plain Wrong) People

Unlike some bloggers, I’m generally not inclined to take on – or for that matter acknowledge – letters in the BJ’s Voice of the People. Generally it’s too easy. Comically bad writing, regurgitated talking points, wild leaps of logic – would anyone who has wandered into this blog and found enough to stick around really benefit from my take on something like “The Evolution Deception?”

But today the BJ published a letter that is so screamingly factually incorrect that it raises serious questions about the editorial policy for VOP. Can any idiot get any cockamamie opinion published, irrespective of his claim that up is down and white is black? Apparently.

One Joseph C. McLeland of Munroe Falls is the lead VOPer today, beginning with the following stiletto-sharp legal analysis:

Your July 2 editorial headlined ``Justice of distinction'' only further
confounds the prevailing law regarding ``freedom of religion,'' the concept
found in the [] First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Your approbation of
Justice Breyer ignores the long-standing interpretation problem of the clear
meaning of this clause. The preposition ``of '' is all-important. It means
something far different than ``from.''
Boy, he’s absolutely right; the phrase “freedom of religion” means something fundamentally different from the phrase “freedom from religion.” And his argument would probably carry the day were it not for the pesky fact that the First Amendment does not contain the phrase “freedom of religion.”

The religion clauses in the First Amendment read: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . .”

So now this is just sad. Mr. McLeland conducting his education in public, arguing stridently his interpretation of a constitutional provision that does not exist. But the question isn’t why McLeland is such an ignorant fool, the question is why a letter so obviously wrong in its core argument ever saw print.

Now I don’t expect an editorial page editor to know the First Amendment of the Constitution. Oh, wait a minute. Yes I do. That’s exactly the sort of basic competence someone in such a position should have. Maybe not know the exact language of the top of his/her head, but at least have sufficient stored knowledge that paragraph one from McLeland is a little suspect.

If only such an editor had at his disposal some sort of information processing device. And if only this device were connected to a larger, perhaps much larger, maybe even, dare we dream Al Gore, World Wide network of computers. Then maybe this editor could type the words “United States Constitution” into some sort of program that could search the, geez, like googles of bits of information. He might then come up with results like this, this, this, this, and this, and could FREAKING CHECK THE WORDING OF THE FIRST AMENDMENT ALREADY!

But no. Let’s just take James McLeland’s word for it. He seems so sincere, after all.