- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 20, 2001

King of thieves

"When Boston Globe token conservative Jeff Jacoby pilfered a few items off the Internet for a column, rewrote them and acknowledged elsewhere that he had borrowed from an e-mail, he was suspended for four months. When New Republic star Ruth Shalit was discovered to have copied a handful of generic boilerplate sentences … I suspended her, and saw her suffer professional humiliation.
"When Larry King rips off almost an entire column directly from the Internet, he finds it funny. 'I never pilfered anything. I'm 67 years old,' King said. 'This is taking journalism to its nth idiocy. This is berserk. The more I think about it, the funnier it gets. If you find out who was the originator of "Maine is a one syllable state," I'll print his picture and apologize on CNN.'
"King's column was called, 'Things I learned while looking up other things.' The list began: 'Dreamt is the only English word that ends in the letters "mt." … Almonds are a member of the peach family… . Two-thirds of the world's eggplants are grown in New Jersey.'
"Virtually everything in it can be found on those awful chain e-mails… . USA Today told the San Francisco Chronicle's Dan Fost that 'we have no plans right now to discontinue the column.' Look, I think some of this journalism policing is overdone. But if you're going to do it, it shouldn't always be to pummel minor right-of-center writers instead of major talk-show hosts. No wonder King can't stop laughing."
Andrew Sullivan, writing on "Rip-Off King," Thursday at www.andrewsullivan.com

I feel, therefore I am

"Crisis columnist B.F. Smith was in Washington from Atherton, Calif., with her daughter Whitney, once a student at Georgetown University, where I teach … I asked her, 'What is the most common verb appearing on term papers?' She was right on target. 'To feel,' she replied without the slightest doubt. 'Right,' I replied, duly impressed… .
"The main intellectual activity that many students experience these days is that they 'feel.' The greats of philosophy, politics and history also mainly 'feel' in the essays my students write. Georgetown's most famous graduate may have contributed to this scourge by going about the country to tell us how much he 'feels our pain.' Actually, I think, that is the one thing we cannot, in precise language, do we cannot 'feel' someone else's pain …
"The use of the verb 'to feel' in place of 'to think' signifies a refusal to make a judgment about things, to state the truth about things. If you 'feel' something is wrong or right, there is nothing I can say about your feelings, except that they seem odd if they have no basis in fact that can be tested and argued about."
Georgetown University professor the Rev. James V. Schall, writing on in "Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings," in the February issue of Crisis

Lonely death

"In the study of [Dr. Jack] Kevorkian's patients, only 25 percent appeared to be terminally ill… . The number of those who had experienced recent decline in health status, and who therefore may have been seriously discouraged, was 72 percent. And a large percentage were experiencing some sort of social isolation. The divorced, widowed and never-married were disproportionately represented at 69 percent …

"The role of discouragement, depression and social isolation in death decisions must be studied very carefully, for the experience of isolation can mesh with the cultural values of individualism in dangerous ways… . Living or dying, it is not good for man to be alone. Divorced from emotional and physical support systems, an individual can easily rationalize the urge to end life. However, in the context of mutual support, enormous suffering can be borne and transcended for the sake of love."

From "Death by Default," an editorial in the Feb. 5 edition of Christianity Today

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