Opinions: thoughtless or ill-considered, but ‘wrong’?
If you’ve read only two books in the past 20 years, odds are that one of them was the Bible, the best-selling book of all time in this country, and that the other book was written by Stephen King, the country’s best-selling author. Consequently, most everyone has an opinion about the King of Kings as well as the King of Horror, although to typecast him as a horror writer is a shame. If you define literature as the sort of book that you pick up and reread from time to time in whole or in part, then Stephen King is a master of literature. Many of his books published in the 1970s contain the character studies and descriptive text that kept me buying King novels into the 1990s.
By this century, however, the creative well had run dry as had the money I was willing to spend on the latest King novel, at least until I’d read the library copy.King’s novels come to mind whenever I drive across western Nebraska, a part of the country I think King has only to visit to rekindle the strength of storytelling that’s forced me to buy new copies of his earlier works to replace the originals with their tattered pages and broken spines. Forget Derry, Maine. North Platte, Neb., is the place to fire the imagination; you have only to drive past the alkali flats that surround the town and along the deserted, dusty streets for macabre thoughts to spring to mind. The census places 20,000 people in North Platte, but I’ve never seen a living soul, not even another car in motion when I’ve passed through. I’ve never stopped in North Platte, either, and the desire to speed through is tempered by fear that I might be pulled over for speeding, to spend the night (gulp) behind bars, and meet the sheriff!Imagination is all the luckless driver has in North Platte, especially if he’s forgotten his CD case at home. Somewhere east of the Colorado border, FM radio gives out, but driving in silence with only your own thoughts for company en route to (gulp) North Platte is a sure route to madness. Thanks be to the King of Kings that car radios still have the AM band, although in western Nebraska at mid-day, there’s only one voice speaking from AM radio, the voice of Rush Limbaugh. Shades of the King of Horror.
These days I catch Rush from time to time by accident; his show comes on Denver’s KOA talk radio after Mike Rosen. Years ago, I used to watch his daily syndicated television show at 10:30 p.m., a show that owed more to Ron Popeil and his infomercials than Ted Koppel on “Nightline.” Then, on television, Rush spent most of his time talking about the news of the day and the newsmakers. Now, once again exclusively on radio, Rush devotes much of his time to critiquing and evaluating not the news and the newsmakers, but other news shows and their hosts. In a recent radio hour, Rush talked about Chris Mathews from MSNBC and Jason Blair of the New York Times, as well as Wolf Blitzer of CNN, belittling each to one degree or another, both for their opinions as well as the way that they presented their opinions. When he did get around to the news of the day, it was to talk about Dungy Harry, (Harry Reid, Democrat Minority Leader and Senator from Nevada, for those of you who are not Dittoheads). Apparently, the senator had met with active duty military to talk about the conduct of the war in Iraq, which Rush held was a clear violation of the military’s Code of Uniform Conduct, using military personnel for political grandstanding. What Rush failed to mention was that the very same day, the President had held a public meeting with active duty military in a National Guard Armory, no less, to talk about Iraq as well.
This is why I no longer listen to Rush, because so much of what passes for “news” on broadcasts such as his and others are a disservice to listeners. It’s not because I think his opinions are wrong; opinion, by its very definition, can’t be wrong. Opinions can be ill-informed, thoughtless, or ill-considered, but there is no right or wrong. Dungy Harry? Does name-calling help anyone form an opinion? And why tell listeners only part of the story? I believe the whole truth will eventually catch up with them, and with Rush. But then, I hold firm to the opinion that King will write a novel that harks back to the old days, and I drive through North Platte expecting good to present itself. Can I be wrong?Marc Carlisle writes a Thursday column. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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