Sunday, September 17, 2006

Mister Ed’s Greatest Hits

Not to kick a dead horse, but I searched the archives and put together a handful of letters to the editor, written to the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, in response to Ed Iverson’s regular columns. Here are my top-ten favorites, unedited, from the past year:

Ed Iverson is an ass
Yes, lots of things in this world can be an ass or ass-like, including myself from time to time. However, at least in my case I hope, not as often nor as enormously as Iverson regularly demonstrates himself to be. There’s not even remotely enough space (300-word limit and all) to recount each way he has made an ass of himself, but the “Advisory Board II,” the paper’s ownership and editors, can consider this letter my comments as solicited in the same edition containing Iverson’s most recent column.

My feeling is that providing a special interest group’s representative regular access to the bully pulpit isn’t exactly unbiased or nonpartisan (a tenet of good journalism as I recall). I cannot remember a single of his columns that hasn’t whined to some extent of his group’s self-described “persecution.” His opinions are his, perhaps are shared by others, and mine is that he can kiss my curvy white “Iverson.”

John O’Dowd

Look in the mirror, Mr. Iverson
In his Daily News column (Opinion, Nov. 5 & 6), Ed Iverson called upon Charles Dicken’s character, Mr. Bumble, as a supporting chorus for what he judges as wrong laws being passed today. Over and over again, Iverson uses Bumble’s remark, “The law is an ass!” as a litany-like echo for a list of current legislative actions he begrudges. This could be an interesting device, but Iverson’s choice of character to support his point of view is his own folly.

Many of us who read Oliver Twist in our juvenile years recognize Mr. Bumble as the pompous, cruel, and dishonest beadle who ran the workhouse where Oliver was born — the man who starved the poor under his care, working many of them to death. Remember? — Mr. Bumble, the self-righteous church official who preached Christian morality, but lacked anything even close to compassion or actual moral sense in his relationships with others.

So, calling up Bumble as any kind of credible chorus for legal authority is folly. In fact, Mr. Bumble is the bigger ass here — and invoking the words of a hypocritical ass (even a fictional one) in support of one’s own opinions, seems, well, (sorry to say it so bluntly) just a little bit “asinine,” don’t you think?

Rebecca Rod

Column was waste of space
What in the world possessed you folks to run Eddie’s rant (Ed Iverson, Opinion, Feb. 25 & 26) about diversity on the weekend of the Jazz Festival when Moscow is swarming with crowds of diverse visitors?

Every family has its embarrassing secret. We in Moscow are learning to live with the New Saint Andrews’ gang, which is our little secret. But for heaven’s sake keep Uncle Eddie up in his room when there’s a big party, and let him rant next week at a regular family dinner where everyone understands and no one cares.

Or maybe you figure that no one reads the paper anyway.

Ross Coates

Gold Star logic of columnist
I lament the fact that I feel too old and already have accumulated enough degrees to return to college. If things were otherwise I would certainly enroll in New Saint Andrews College. For in carefully reading the statements and opinions of those associated with the college for the past several years, such as the example of Ed Iverson (Opinion, Aug. 27 & 28), head librarian of the college, I am convinced that NSA has solved puzzles and conundrums that have plagued Western thought for nearly 25 centuries.

Iverson’s view on Cindy Sheahan is exemplary of this unassailable logic. It begins with an unsubstantiated premise that also serves as the conclusion, thereby deftly skirting the “begging the question” fallacy of Western logic. The argument then truncates the world into “us,” the God-fearing Christians, versus “them,” the unwashed secularists, or worse, liberal lefties. Again, here too, the logic apparently taught at NSA allows one to deftly ignore ad hominem assertions, the genetic fallacy of Western philosophy in developing argument.

Then, of course, there is the obligatory invocation of biblical truth to trump empirically confirmed evidence. So, Iverson, despite the availability of an entire library (not to mention the Internet) at his disposal, seems unaware of the countless non-Christian societies that have moral codes they live by nor with the fact there is no society known to scholarship that reserves moral authority for the individual.

The dénouement of the NSA style of argument is a thinly veiled smugness that its logic is so foolproof that no one but the unwashed could not be convinced of its validity. So, is it any wonder that I lament my restrictions from enrolling in NSA. I would certainly save time not having to struggle through the puzzles of many centuries and save considerable money because of the far fewer books I would need to purchase.

Eugene Rosa

This is not Mark Twain’s time
Once again it was a pleasure to read Ed Iverson’s erudite drivel (Opinion, Oct. 8 & 9). This time he decried the lack of opportunity for men to be around men and, I assume, women to be around women. According to Iverson the breakdown of our Christian values has made this impossible. This seems to me to be a genuine non-problem.

In my limited social sphere, there are men’s discussion groups, women’s raft trips, boys’ and girls’ separate soccer teams, and my children’s social groups, which are voluntarily quite strictly sex segregated. And that is the operative term: voluntarily. Kids continue to have same-sex groups, like Tom Sawyer’s gang, but unlike Mark Twain’s time, my daughter is much less likely to be excluded from sports or adventures or the country’s finest universities. It is really quite wonderful how many opportunities are now open to her.

Janice Boughton

Stop insulting the majority
There are several errors in Ed Iverson’s recent editorial (“Crossing the line between liberty and tolerance,” Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Aug. 13 & 14) worth noting.

First, Iverson is not the only one who thinks he has a hand on the “absolute truth.” I think it is an absolute truth that slavery is always wrong; persecution “even of gays and lesbians” is always wrong; and it is always wrong to appeal to God in an effort to try to condone one’s immoral actions. The problem is not that you, Iverson, adhere to an absolute truth and I do not. Rather it is that your supposed absolute truths differ from mine. Not all who disagree with the folks at Christ Church are relativists.

Second, if those in Christ Church are at “liberty” to “evangelize” given that the “Constitution” acknowledges religious liberty (Iverson’s claim, not mine) then it is also true that others are allowed to criticize Christ Church.

Third, there have been no “frivolous zoning complaints, tax-code grievances and other public harassments” against Christ Church, as far as I know. Christ Church is in violation of zoning laws and tax codes. That is a fact. What Christ Church wants is not freedom from persecution but the right to be above and beyond the law. This is not guaranteed by either the Constitution or the Bill of Rights.

Maybe if the folks at Christ Church stop blaming others and took responsibility for their own indiscretions, we might be able to get beyond this mess. Maybe if they stopped insulting the majority of people in town and started to acknowledge our concerns, the rest of us might be able to believe that their indiscretions were mistakes and not merely an effort to gain power at any cost.

Joe Campbell

Proud to be intolerant
In his discussion of tolerance and liberty (Opinion, Aug. 13 & 14), Ed Iverson shows he is proud to be intolerant. His church is infallible; it knows the truth about everything. “Other religions, while well-intentioned, are false.” Persons who believe in tolerance wish others Godspeed in their individual quests for truth. How should they react to folks who are smugly certain they own the truth? With tolerance, of course — plus occasional constructive criticism!

Clifton Anderson

Same old tiresome choices
I stopped participating in Vision 2020 because it was so dominated by the great polarizer, Doug Wilson. I got a sense for how he thought and it had no intrigue and no interest. Demagoguery and closed mindedness draws out the reaction of opposition or agreement, both tiresome choices.

Now, the Daily News has given the microphone to a similar speaker. Ed Iverson presents a false dichotomy and then demands a choice, like there really is such a thing. I think he’s been watching Master Wilson too long. The Daily News is just trying to sell papers (Duh!). If this is your idea of promoting a community discussion, I suggest a booth at the Saturday market: “Arguments $5.”

Dan Schmidt

Some interesting definitions
Ed Iverson (Opinion, Aug. 13) has given us some interesting new definitions. First, “religious liberty” means the freedom to try to convert everyone else. Second, “diversity” means acknowledging that some people follow “real truth” and others “real falsehoods.” Third, “religious tolerance” means being religiously indifferent while surrendering one’s religious convictions.

Iverson says we should all be concerned. I agree. But what we should be concerned about is his mischaracterizations of liberty, diversity, and tolerance.

Sandy Hathaway

Time to look in the mirror
Your Aug. 13 Their View titled “Crossing the line between liberty and tolerance” was informative. This column provided insight into the controversy surrounding Christ Church, its Pastor Doug Wilson, and New Saint Andrews College. In the view of guest columnist Ed Iverson, the “tolerance police” are restricting the liberty of Christ Church. He accuses the “tolerance police” of subjecting Christ Church and New Saint Andrews College to “frivolous zoning complaints, tax grievances and other public harassments.”

Iverson’s reasoning neglects very important facts. The legal processes of our government have found that Christ Church and New Saint Andrews College are not in compliance with our tax and zoning laws. He also disregards the fact the vast majority of our community disagrees with Wilson’s views about slavery and gay rights. To challenge such views is not harassment. It is common sense.

He suggests that this unnamed Christian church’s “only crime” is that they are the arbiters of “absolute truth” confirming that their religion is the “true” religion and all others, including my own are “false.” This sounds all too similar to the ideas of other infamous churches in the recent history of northern Idaho. It is hostile and intolerant to label others religions as false.

It is bigotry to defend slavery and not support gay rights. It is arrogant to think that this church is being unfairly persecuted because they are expected to abide by our laws. I think that Iverson and the “Christian church along with its pastor and affiliated ministries” which he defends, should look in a mirror where they will find neither religious tolerance nor religious liberty.

Bill Beck