An Ol’ Broad’s Ramblings

April 1, 2007

Fahrenheit 451

Filed under: Opinion — olbroad @ 7:31

I was quite surprised to actually read an editorial in the Distorter, written by the staff, that was fairly accurate.

Editorial: Another ‘451’ lesson: As mainstream media struggles, democracy wanes

In his “Fahrenheit 451” masterwork, he envisioned a culture in which literature — and, by extension, serious journalism — are as obsolete as the democracy that once relied upon them.

We take that message seriously. The names you see at the top of this page represent the editorial board of this newspaper, and not one of us lives in a gilded ivory tower. We are quite aware of the public’s perception of what we do and how we do it, day in and day out.

Depending on whom you ask, The Reporter is either too liberal for conservatives OR too conservative for liberals; either pandering to the needs of minority communities OR not sensitive enough to the increasingly diverse face of Fond du Lac; either spending too much time focused on outlying communities OR ignoring everyone but our urban center. The paradoxes seem endless.

I have to say, I’m one of those who finds the Reporter too liberal, unless they allow “Guest Commentary” from a conservative. The staff itself is pretty tilted to the left.

# Those on the left end of the political spectrum can read The Progressive or Mother Jones, tune in to the BBC or Air America each night and, perhaps, read Anna Quindlen’s latest novel. Nary a right-leaning thought need ever enter their heads.

# Those on the far right can consume The Weekly Standard or The American Spectator, savor the witticisms of Rush Limbaugh, enjoy the Fox News Network and kick back with Ann Coulter’s most recent opus. Any whiff of liberalism can be scrubbed from their existence.

And, for the first time in U.S. history, individuals on both sides of the socio-political spectrum can spend a lifetime without having exposure to a thought, notion, idea or position that in any way offends their sensibilities.

Now, I take issue with this. No doubt there are some who read, or watch, only things that agrees with their point of view. However, any reasonably intelligent conservative also reads the “other side”. I know I do. Sometimes, you come across a well reasoned argument, but recently, that seems rare. Mostly, it’s all emotionally charged rants of hatred. Not terribly informative.

Simply put, “Fahrenheit 451” foresaw the death of “we, the people” when individual citizens only care about “I, the person.”

Indeed, the novel’s cautionary message rings more true today than it did more than a half century ago.

And if that doesn’t frighten you, it should.

I’ve been frightened for quite a while at the trend of things in this country. The “me” that’s replaced the “we” is dooming our nation.


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