Interesting Stuff I've Learned From Being an STR Guest Editor

Exclusive to STR

December 26, 2006

Highly technical articles and treatises on economics, natural rights, and the nature of liberty are mind-expanding, raise your consciousness, and are often just plain interesting. They are 'brain food' for many of us who stagger, mentally and spiritually starving, through this twilight world of unabated tyranny that modern America is becoming. Like the mythical Diogenes wandering the world with his lamp searching for an honest man, we crave these nuggets of wisdom and truth where they can be found.

But they can often be stupifyingly boring, too. Many are so jargon-filled and replete with obscure references and obtuse verbosity that it makes for a hard slog through the pages searching, always searching, for that one tiny little insight that will make the concept or point that the author(s) are trying to make clear. Sometimes they make me wonder if the problem is that they don't really know what it is they are trying to say, or that I'm just too stupid to understand them. And sometimes I just give up, too, and put the book back on the shelf, and feel sad and a little guilty that I don't have the education or intellectual wherewithal to comprehend them. Such was the case when I tried to read Robert Nozick's 1975 National Book Award-winning tome, Anarchy, State, and Utopia, just to cite one instance.

What I like to do nowadays is peruse the mainstream news media that's meant for the average mug and try to repost items with an ironic spin put on them that makes my point. Irony, humor, sarcasm and moral outrage seem to work the best for getting the point across. What has been occurring to me recently, though, is that more and more news stories from such staid outlets as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, the BBC and other mainstream establishment publications and websites can, with just a small twist, tweak, or turn of phrase, just as well have been published by such overtly satirical and intentionally humorous sites such as Fark or The Onion just as easily. I wonder if the Ivy League-educated, big-time elite reporters and columnists who write this stuff realize it too? I mean, how can these sophisticated and well-informed brainiacs write such stuff with a straight face? I know I couldn't. And the irony here is that they aren't even trying to be ironic, hypocritical, sarcastic or satirical, let alone anti-state or anti-authority, like I am. Which is itself ironic, no? But I digress.

I was chided once, (many times actually), by people in web forums, blogs, private emails and personal conversations about opinions and articles I've written or posted. 'What was your source for that, Ali/Mr. Massoud/You asshole?' they ask of me. When I tell them it was the NYT , WSJ or The Economist, they snort in disbelief until I reply with the URL. And often as not, they don't believe me and vow to look it up for themselves, assuming, I suppose, that I misread it, got it wrong somehow, made it up, or just plain lied and hoped no one would check into it further. Upon receipt of my sources, though, they usually fall silent or reply with invective. My opinion pieces are the rare and only exception to this phenomenon. With them, critics usually accuse me of fabrication or being a bald-faced liar. Go figure?

When the New York Times, that exemplar and advocate for any and all forms of statism and bureaucratic meddlesomeness, ran an article recently about 'non-operating [school] districts' [sic] in New Jersey (i.e. they all had elected school boards, collected school taxes, and employed administrative staff, but had no or very few actual students), I received not less than five emails to the effect that this story had to be a hoax from The Onion, and I was just too dense to realize that it wasn't and it couldn't possibly be true. I say 'not less' than five here because my email client has a rule to automatically delete, unread, any mail with an extensive and uncommonly long list of profanity, epithets, racial slurs, and such like in the header or text of the message. And my junk mail box was much fuller the day I posted that little tidbit on the STR front page. Again, go figure?

Funny, ironic and ridiculous though it was, it was also absolutely true. At least as true as any other news you'll read in America 's 'newspaper of record,' anyhow. Other such examples of my reader responses are numerous, too numerous for this short article. Some remarks and comments were quite funny, some were sad, and a few were kind of scary. I guess this sort of thing goes with the territory though; if you shake a tree (or strike its root!) hard enough, a few nuts and rotten apples are bound to come down on you. Like I said though, it goes with the territory.

Anyhow, I hope you Root Strikers enjoy reading these news snippets I dig through the Internet for as much as I enjoy finding them for you.

Your rating: None
Ali Hassan Massoud's picture
Columns on STR: 43

Ali Massoud is a proud old-school isolationist who writes for the Internet and blogs.