Sunday, October 9, 2011

The media left vs. the left

Given the lukewarm comment and download rate this Halloween, I've decided to adopt a casual posting pace, if for no other reason than the chance to use the cool phrase, "casual posting pace." I always feel like I'm on some deadline, but this is obviously some trick of perception caused by the essential Internet/user dynamic.

Speaking of tricks, illusionist Penn Jillette seems to be the media left's replacement for the acrimonious misanthrope Richard "I'm not going to change the minds of many dyed-in-the-wool faith-heads" Dawkins, and I can't imagine a better swap. Unlike Dawkins, whose crude cracks require constant damage control of the "He never said that" variety, Jillette has no gentleman's image to maintain--he can, for instance, compare someone to Hitler and not have to insist that he didn't compare someone to Hitler. Plus, playing religion against science isn't Penn's primary goal--he's just doing the rock and roll thing by trashing faith, church-going, belonging to "middle America," and similar crimes against the entertainment industry. He's not desperate to be accepted as an important scientist--he's a magician/entertainer, and proud to be just that. I doubt he bristles at being called a jerk or blowhard, whereas his British counterpart can't figure out why people feel the need to fire back for being labeled morally and intellectually obsolete. No sense of humor, those folks.

Besides, as a high school-educated entertainer, Penn's the perfect spokesperson for education, logic, reason, science, etc., at least by the media left's standards. Don't get me wrong--in the actual left, as I call it, these things are highly regarded. In the media left, not so much. I mean, take a look at the people who pass for sages on the MSNBC and Current TV airwaves--comics, actors, animators, Penn Jillette, etc. Nothing against any of those groups, but the media left's take on smart culture often resembles, more than anything else, a swipe.

In a recent Los Angeles Times's op-ed, water-carrier Jillette trashed Christianity across the board, and some readers complained. Predictably, the paper pretended that the author's put-downs were qualified (they were not), and spent the space of an essay playing games with word use. It's possible that deputy Op-Ed editor Susan Brenneman doesn't realize that dissing something in whole is the essence of an unqualified judgment. Which, of course, raises the fascinating question of why not.

In that op-ed, Jillette talks about state/church separation in the usual careless MSNBC fashion, as if any mention of religion by a politician violates same. (By the way, clearly our nation was meant to have no state press, so why are reporters allowed in the White House, thus creating the danger of state and press coming in contact?) Ironically, the two presidents he gripes about--Carter and "church slut" Clinton--are Democrats. Will we lefties survive our media wing? That is the question.