Notes for an ‘Open Letter’

The Editorial Board of the L.A. Times sent me questions, and I'll question them



Last week The Editorial Board of the Los Angeles Times sent me a questionnaire. I was advised that if I want to be considered for a Board endorsement in the upcoming California Primary, I must complete the questionnaire. Well, I’m running for governor, so I did as requested. But I’m also putting together an Open Letter to the Board. Here are my preliminary notes. More to follow!

1. The Board writes that “On the editorial page, the newspaper sets aside its objective news-gathering role to join its readers in a dialogue about important issues of the day.” But the Times also sets aside “objective news-gathering” in its regular pages as well. It gathers the news that it wants to put center stage and spins it mightily.

2. The Board touts “the region’s iconic status as a global entertainment capital.” A sorry icon, indeed! A large share of the entertainment is the rank commodification of art, formulaic and scripted. Bring back the circus!

3. The Board announces that “Freedom is our core value.” So do libertarians; so do college students on spring break. “Freedom” isn’t simply the lack of restrictions. Unless freedom is ordered to the good, it is simply license.

4. The Board acknowledges “a special obligation” to defend “human rights.” But it says nothing about who counts as a human being and what counts as a right. Readers need to know why preborn human beings turn out to be neither human nor to have rights. Does the Board suppose that “fetus” refers to a non-human species?

5. The Board tells us that our Western roots champion “freedom of conscience.” But the Board doesn’t tell us what conscience is and why the Times sometimes dismisses it. The Times doesn’t get that, once understood, we can never dismiss conscience. It is the last, best judgment of practical reason.

6. The Board is not above some vigorous saber-rattling. “We believe,” it thumps, “that the United States should have, and sometimes must use, the strongest military in the world.” But why? Are we the most noble of people? Ought we to maintain an edge in stockpiling the weapons of mass destruction? Please explain.

7. The Board concludes its message with the message that, regardless of disagreements, “we do hope to earn your respect.” With all due respect, and as persons you are due the greatest respect, your statements above are intellectually bankrupt. Winning intellectual respect takes a good deal of work that you haven’t done. Time to get started!

And so, gentle reader, I’ll keep you posted as the notes develop and the Open Letter is posted.


Jim Hanink is an independent scholar, albeit more independent than scholarly!

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