Monday, March 06, 2006

Katie and Kate, again

A two-fer today, boys and girls, involving Katie and Kate Parry, two of the Strib’s painted ladies. Well, that’s not entirely fair to one of them. Funny, but not entirely fair. Those names are similar, so your full attention to this post will be required!

First up is Katie’s column today titled Ignorance of our founding principles can endanger us all. Here are the opening grafs:
Here we go again. A new survey reveals that only about one in four Americans can name at least two of the First Amendment's five freedoms: freedom of the press, religion, speech and assembly, as well as the right to petition government for redress of grievances. But 52 percent can name two or more members of TV's "Simpsons." More than 20 percent of Americans actually think the First Amendment gives us the right to own and raise pets!

We shouldn't be shocked. Americans' -- especially young Americans' -- woeful ignorance of history and civics has been documented repeatedly.

This is, of course, one of her standard columns, the one with the theme “the country is going to hell in a hand basket because [fill in the blank].” Today, she fills in the blank with ignorant Americans, especially young Americans. You know, Katie might be on to something here. The thing is, though, Katie is not really interested in history or civics, but rather the conservative catechism, including an exaltation of the Free Exercise Clause while ignoring the Freedom From Religion Clause (it’s really called the Establishment Clause) of the First Amendment. She isn’t interested in Americans’ thinking, but rather their pledges of fealty.

If we really had citizens educated in history, we wouldn’t hire and give free reign to ahistorical boobs like George W. Bush. Boobs who would have a lot of trouble with questions like: what are the two main branches of Islam, or are Pakistanis (or Pakis as the president would call them) Arabs; or how about the Turks who fought against the “Grecians” in Cyprus, or what group participated with the Turks in the Armenian (Christians no less) genocide (the Kurds), or what does UN Declaration 242 say about Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza and East Jerusalem, or who was a big supporter of Saddam Hussein at the time “he gassed his own people,” etc. and etc?

Spotty says that more than math and science, we need to teach kids to have a critical understanding of history, but Spot’s history is grounded in reality, not Classic Comics. The world’s problems continue to be mostly human, not technological. Katie, In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue won’t cut it.

Turning now to Kate, in discussing the three Metro columnists for the Strib (Doug Grow, Nick Coleman, and Katherine Kersten a/k/a Katie), repeats the following remarkable comments, with her apparent approval, from Strib editor Anders Gyllenhaal:
Why does the paper put these columns on pages that otherwise contain news stories? Is there a difference between columnists whose work appears in a news section and columnists who appear on the editorial pages? Gyllenhaal thinks there are many similarities, but the emphases differ: Op-ed columnists tend to write directly about issues; metro columnists often get at issues by telling a story. They have license to push storytelling further than a reporter would and to add their two cents.

. . .

"Our columnists are very capable, dedicated reporters. They occasionally make errors, but they're minor, not at the core of the column. Considering the battleground they're working in, their work stands up to tremendous scrutiny," Gyllenhaal said.

First, boys and girls, name a column when Katie told a story to illustrate one of her hot button issues. How about the one where a heterosexual couple got divorced because a gay couple moved next door? Or the one where US soldiers lost faith in the cause in Iraq and simply stood up so they could be shot? Didn’t see ‘em? Neither did Spot.

Second, Gyllenhaal calls his columnists “capable, dedicated reporters.” Jeebus, Anders, you gotta be kidding us. Katie has never reported on so much as a bake sale, unless you include her contributions to the society column in the weekly in Fort Dodge.

Spotty says that Kate Parry and Anders Gyllenhaal ought to re-read the first paragraph of Gyllenhaal’s comments above, and ask themselves honestly if they bear any resemblance to a typical Katie column, including the one discussed in this post.


No comments: