Letter: Columnist has right to his own opinions but not facts



When it seemed safe to go into Current in Carmel, “the official non-mayor of Carmel,” resurfaced as a columnist. Adding to my chagrin over his re-emergence was dread in discovering that, for the first time, I agreed with one of his major points—the boutique hotel and the tracking change in Carmel”s school system allowed for little or no input from citizens or parent/citizens before significant, far-reaching decisions were made.  It’s always bad policy when things are left to politicians or “experts,” without the opportunity for those impacted to advise and consent. I don’t have enough information to express an opinion about the efficacy of the final decisions but Jaws did some “research,” looking at a gifted education document from Purdue; however, it’s doubtful—given his dismissal of it as “a 455 word cluster of techno-babble”—he actually read it carefully before calling it a name; an example of his characteristic abuse of language—name-calling with language venomous but devoid of concrete content.

Given the patronizing confidence that he is correct about everything had they asked his opinion that would have been all the citizen input necessary. Since Current provided him a platform, responsibility to facts and evidence in support of his freedom of speech should be an expectation, which it wasn’t when he just popped off as a letter writer.

More name-calling occurs when he labels decision-makers as “petty elitists” who are “arrogant and over-reaching.”  The word “elitist” has become such a loose term that it now tends to mean anyone you think is too big for his britches and you disagree with; without a contextual definition it remains name calling and pretentious posturing. Ironically, he is “over-reaching and arrogant” in his assertions and tone. Now he presumes to include himself as one of the “alert journalists shining the light of reason” on those “petty elitists” who are “spending our money without asking”?

A regular Diogenes!

He should be called the official non-bookkeeper; his criticisms are ultimately about money—a bookkeeper who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing; this coalesces with his dismissal of art as having any social or human value.  Here, more covertly than usual but even more insidious, when he inserts the phrase “the mostly vacant Palladium.” An example of his dangerous and typical use of casual specious innuendo.

The linguistic “analysis” of “cluster” is another encounter with his black and white world: words have one definition [his], there is one way of seeing things, one option correct, one not. But life is far messier, unstable, and infinitely more complex. Words are slippery and contingent, require attention, care, context—splendid instruments but delicate, sensitive, and nuanced, except when used as weapons they become sledge hammers—destructive rather than constructive, obfuscation rather insight, rigid, self-righteous, accusative never exculpatory, always right while not necessarily true.

He should exercise the responsibility that comes with the soap box—the right to his own opinions but not his own facts and the obligation not to just assert opinions but to explain and support them.

Don Seybold, Carmel