- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 2, 2005

No-class awards

“Self-important [stars] like Sean Penn laughed at Chris Rock’s labored and unfunny Gap metaphor about President Bush’s on-the-job incompetence but quickly stopped laughing when he mocked theirs.

“Most of you guys aren’t real star actors, Rock said, just ‘popular people.’ To his credit Rock turned his corrosive cynicism on his smug patrons, treating them as a collection of bejeweled phonies and hacks. This was ‘mean-spirited,’ according to postmortem criticism. But why is that any more mean-spirited than the bile Hollywood pours on Bush? A classless audience deserves a classless host. At least Chris Rock knows, unlike the Sean Penns, that he has no class, and suffers no illusions about Hollywood’s essential idiocy.

“The Oscars are nothing more than a comedy show at this point anyways, as its tragedies are so maudlin and false to reality that they can’t move audiences to anything except inadvertent laughter.

“Most serious modern dramas are like oh-so-serious modern art, sources of unintentional humor that make the elite ‘ooh’ and ‘ah,’ but ordinary people either scratch their heads or chuckle at the ridiculous pretentiousness of it all.”

George Neumayr, writing “Tinseltown Values,” Tuesday in the American Spectator Online at www.spectator.org

Elite paradox

“Harvard remains what it always has been: the principal ratifying institution of American elitism and an unsinkable dreadnought of a brand. With a $19 billion endowment, the school is also spectacularly rich, by some reports the wealthiest nonprofit in the world after the Catholic Church.

“Harvard is awash in three things that don’t often go together in American life: prestige, money and power. But over the last 20 or so years, higher education in America has been redefined by two trends: the sharply rising cost of college tuition, and the sharply rising cost, in forgone future income, of not getting a college degree.

“Put another way, as college has become less and less affordable, the rewards for graduating from college have risen dramatically. Is it any wonder that the mania to denounce universities as overpriced corrupters of the young is rivaled only by the mania to get one’s children in?”

Stephen Metcalf, writing on “Harvard Inc.,” Monday in Slate at www.slate.com

A simple case

“Last year, a government commission in Alabama removed Roy Moore, chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, from office. His offense? Defying a judge’s order to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments … from the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery. …

“Moore’s case is relatively simple: Liberals say that placing the Ten Commandments in a courtroom, and by extension placing God at the center of the American legal system, infringes on the freedom of conscience of nonbelievers; but in fact they have it all backwards.

“The founding fathers, Moore writes, believed that freedom of conscience derived from God — specifically a Judeo-Christian God. Freedom of conscience is therefore a Judeo-Christian construct; without a Judeo-Christian God, Moore asserts, there would be no freedom of conscience.

“By this logic, freedom of conscience isn’t imperiled by the presence of the Ten Commandments in a courtroom … but rather by their absence. … That is why Moore believes the founding fathers intended God to be at the center of American law; and that is why he insisted on placing the Ten Commandments at the center of his courthouse.”

Richard Just, writing on “Court of Claims,” Tuesday in the New Republic Online at www.tnr.com

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