Jewish World Review Sept. 13, 2002/ 7 Tishrei, 5763

Marianne M. Jennings

Marianne M. Jennings
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Consumer Reports

Erudite buffoons | A toxic occupational hazard of writing opinion pieces is dissenting reader mail. Liberals are kindly to flora, fauna and pornographers, but conservative columnists? "Off with their heads," they shout.

Most liberalentia mail begins or ends with a puzzling, but heartfelt concern: "How can someone with your views be a professor?" they query. When the American Enterprise study on professorial political party affiliation was released just weeks ago, I finally understood this near-universal gripe. According to the study, there are about 27 registered Republicans on campuses around the country, only 3 of whom voted for George Bush. Political views are a screen for tenure-track positions.

Mail dissenters and many of my colleagues are part of the ruling class of erudite buffoons, a term of the 19th century. E-buffoons feign brilliance through left-field solutions. One of my E-buffoon colleagues once proposed having 2 department chairs when we all couldn't agree on one candidate. E-buffoons wreak havoc with their solutions, i.e., 2 bosses, yet status makes them the ruling class, immune from criticism.

Despite intellectualism and because of emotionalism, they ignore facts and ward off sudden spats of reasoning. Snobs, mortified of common sense, they dismiss facts as tools of the riff-raff. Beneath the self-labeled open minds of E-Buffoons lie percolating inconsistencies and boiling desires not to know.

At training seminars I imagine being held in Oregon or Santa Fe, E-buffoons learn how to be consistent in their inconsistencies. For example, E-buffoons fling insults about possible psychiatric ailments from which I suffer. E-buffoon training must include "Diagnosing Mental Illness From 800 Words or Less of Op-ed Writing." However, E-buffoons are also trained by Tipper Gore to chant, "Not that there's anything wrong with mental illness." Mental illness insults are hurled only at conservative columnists. Such twists and curves of erudite logic are as challenging as the switchbacks of the Grand Canyon, another possible training location with many Euro Erudites (E2) attending.

E-Buffoon language training must be outsourced to The Berlitz School of Obfuscation. George Carlin offered some translations: "rainforest" means "jungle" and "wetlands" are "swamps." I've learned that "urban sprawl" means "suburbs."

Erudite buffoons coin these phrases to use the power of language. "Urban sprawl" sounds like headquarters for brown recluse spiders trained to deposit mold in tract homes. "Suburbs" is too upbeat a word. It brings to mind trees, Red Flyer wagons and no annoying street musicians begging for money.

Language also conceals inconsistencies. Erudite buffoons abide in loft apartments located next to three forms of mass transit and a Starbucks. They desire all to have such utopia. Yet, what do erudite buffoons do in the summer, besides attend refresher courses entitled, "Using Yoga to Enhance Affirmative Action Programs" sponsored by city parks and recreation? Why, they raise money so that the youth of urbia can spend time in urban sprawl!

We say "abortion;" E-buffoons say "choice." We say "reforestation;" they say "Loggers raping the land." We say "bum;" they say "homeless." We say "dumb;" they say "learning disabled." We say "brat;" they say "attention deficit disorder." We say "men making passes;" they say "sexual harassment." We say "illegal immigrant;" they say "unnaturalized citizens." They say "gay;" we say "homosexual." An E-buffoon scholar of religion on Fox News last week explained that references to homosexuality in the Bible, when properly translated, indicate God was addressing "issues of hospitality" in those scriptures, not condemning sin. They say "issues of hospitality;" we say "fire and brimstone, Sodom and Gomorrah."

E-Buffoons emit gut-wrenching sensitivity. Oh, the feelings they harbor for trees, even more for animals. E-buffoons wouldn't hurt a fly, even a non-endangered species. However, they want me killed, even those E-buffoons who got the death penalty eliminated for the mentally ill, which they assure me I am.

This year's E-buffoon training had new breakout sessions because my mail, from Belgium to Broadway, has a new mantra, "The U.S. is the greatest threat to world peace."

Saddam Hussein, a nut case ("special needs despot") has stockpiled nuclear weapons and added the punch of weaponized small pox to his Third World Nation ("developing economy") ("nation of concern") arsenal. He had connections to the suicide bombers (Islamic fundamentalists) and won't allow inspections. The U.S. has a pansy secretary of state, Congress, the media, and E-buffoons wringing their hands and whining a president into submission. Such a ragtag group is some threat to an armed fascist. ("misunderstood dictator"). Perhaps I should get the E-buffoons to define "world peace."

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JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Send your comments by clicking here.


09/11/02: One year later, crass demands, greed, and litigation are back --- but rights are diminished
09/06/02: Public schools: An unqualified success
08/30/02: The Shakespearean tragedy of affirmative action
08/23/02: Hollywood Joe's admission
08/15/02: Cheapskates
08/08/02: Ode to a coal miner
08/02/02: Sarah Brady's gun gift
07/26/02: Don't do it, Tiger
07/18/02: Reality Muppets
07/09/02: We're all going to die, live with it
07/02/02: From the eye of the storm
06/27/02: Nick not right
06/20/02: Behind the music
06/14/02: The sum of all fears in vouchers
06/06/02: Where was Agent Rowley when the FBI needed her?
05/30/02: Of big hair and sanity
05/24/02: Should I embrace liberalism?
05/20/02: Some passion about Israel
05/09/02: A mother who cares enough
05/02/02: Go ahead, pass judgment
04/29/02: The irritation of the modern wedding
04/18/02: Claire's life
04/15/02: Harvard takes off its pants one leg at a time
04/09/02: The Clinton legacy: Politics of personal destruction
03/31/02: Oscars' subtle bigotry was embarrassing
03/22/02: Blame Oprah, Rosie, Sally, Ted, David
03/14/02: The costs of women's feeble choices
03/08/02: Botoxic faces
02/28/02: The dangers of organized philanthropy
02/25/02: Don't take the gold
02/14/02: Ease up on the brothers and sisters
02/11/02: Because I was courted
02/05/02: Fat fault
01/24/02: Tolerance does not mean stupidity
01/17/02: Too old too soon
01/10/02: Ethically challenged firms
01/03/02: The year that was
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12/20/01: Free Speech and the political spectrum
12/13/01: Curbing brats
12/06/01: Power to influence
11/29/01: The disappearing art of grading
11/21/01: The Big Two-Five
11/13/01: You can never find a lib when you need one
11/01/01: Unlucky in sports
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10/16/01: A touch of class
10/12/01: Of human nature and monsters
10/05/01: Sensitive man
10/01/01: Post-September 11 security
09/20/01: No tinhorn terrorists can frighten us
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08/27/01: The draw of Condit
08/23/01: Lowering expectations and flying high
08/17/01: Thoreau, Walden and stems cells
08/13/01: Our masters: The animals
07/30/01: When principle hits too close to home
07/13/01: Rage born of sublimation
07/06/01: Patient's rights and the Valley of Death
06/29/01: There is no excuse
06/21/01: I want an eternal soulmate, but the marriage thing is another issue
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06/07/01: No stroke of genius
05/30/01: The lesson of the Mr. Green Jeans senator: 'Moderate' is a classy term for wishy-washy
05/25/01: Baseball has not been so good to me
05/18/01: Clothes make the woman
05/11/01: Selective precaution
05/04/01: Grades: Equality of students, by students, for the students
04/27/01: The Horowitz revelations as seen by a college professor
04/20/01: First, let's kill all the tests
04/13/01: The continuing mistake of underpricing electricity
04/06/01: That pill, Julia Roberts
03/29/01: If it weren't for the parents, we might accomplish something
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03/15/01: Columbine redux: Moral infants
03/09/01: The lessons of Tom and Nicole
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12/06/00: The company we keep: Lawyers and elections
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11/13/00: When it's broke, fixing it wouldn't offend the Framers
11/08/00: ELECTION 2000: I SURRENDER
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10/20/00: Ten things the gay community should understand
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09/29/00: The capacity for truth
09/22/00: Charity with strings and an agenda
09/15/00: The taming of the shrew: Gloria Steinem takes a husband
09/09/00: Why rich folk don't bother me none
08/28/00: Survival of the not-so-fit but conniving
08/25/00: Conventions: A study in contrasts
08/18/00: Resenting the accusations of racial prejudice
08/04/00: Women: Their own worst enemy
07/21/00: Hillary: Our longshoreman First Lady
07/21/00: SUVs: The root of all evil
07/14/00: The basketball gene and white men not jumping so well
07/07/00: I wanna be around
06/23/00: The liberal conversion
06/14/00: Sex and the City: The shallow but vulgar female
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05/16/00: On adultery and leadership
05/12/00: Taking your lumps
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04/25/00: Life's circle and tenderness
04/18/00: Womyn who want it both ways
04/11/00: The monsters we're raising with the ergo proposition
04/05/00: Endowing the Hooters Chair for Literature Appreciation
03/28/00: Dr. Laura: The passive/aggressive kid's mom
03/21/00: Dough and campaigns
03/14/00: The volunteerism of conscription and pomp
03/07/00: Hope and pray that religion remains a force in politics
02/29/00: Ditzes in TV Land
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02/15/00: Those chameleon 60s activists
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02/01/00: The demise of marriage
01/25/00: Stroke of the pen, law of the land: Clinton's Camelot
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12/23/99: Confused fathers
12/14/99: Drop-kicking the homeless
12/07/99: Turtles and teamsters, side-by-side in Seattle
11/29/99: When conservatives behave badly
11/22/99: Compassionate conservative: Timing and targets
11/18/99: The elusive human spirit and accountability
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10/28/99: Live by litigation, die by litigation
10/22/99: Jesse, Warren, Cybill, Donald and Oprah
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10/05/99: Dan Quayle, morals and schoolyard bullies
09/30/99: The monsters of epidermal parenting
09/21/99: The Diversity Hoax
09/15/99: Waco Wackos
09/09/99: Selective censorship
09/01/99: The village, the children, judicial imperialism and abortion
08/24/99: Naughty Newt?
08/17/99: In defense of Boy Scouts and judgment
08/10/99: Ruining the finest health care system in the world
08/03/99: Nihilism and politics: ethics on the lam
07/26/99: Of women, soccer and removed jerseys
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07/20/99: "Why me?" How about "Why us?"
07/13/99: Bunk, junk & juries
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06/30/99: That intellectually embarrassing Second Amendment
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06/17/99: True courage is more than just admitting troubles

© 2002, Marianne M. Jennings