Opinion Pieces [Not] A Waste Of Time

Lushforlife.com recently questioned the usefulness of opinion columns.

This website was born to a basic premise – that everything is stupid (except, of course, emus). But it is time to take up cudgels in defense of opinion columns.

Cudgels, of course, are stupid. They are simply large sticks, used only in Robin Hood movies. Guns do the job much more effectively. But cudgels are traditional, so it is going to be cudgels. I refuse, however, to wear tights, which are extra stupid because they show off your cellulite.

There are two types of information – facts and opinions. Facts are boringly verifiable with evidence, statistics, experiments, and Wikipedia. Opinions have no way of being substantiated, so they support red wine, late nights, and heated arguments.

While everything is stupid (except emus), some people like to prove this by refusing to differentiate between facts and opinions. You stand them next to the Sears Tower, tell them that is 1,450 feet tall, and they stare at it and announce, “It can’t be.”

So you put them next to some dinosaur bones. Just for fun.

Opinion columns may be stupid but they have uses. For example, as vocational evaluations. If you sneer at them, you might suit a career in engineering. Machines and other widgets generally work (or do not work) to specification. Accounting or sciences are indicated for fact-lovers, although there is some leeway for opinion if you can find the next Enron or Korean cloning professorship. Opinion-junkies do well in management or theology, but most liberal arts fields are good. Social sciences are not liberal arts, in case those of you who are not emus have not noticed.

If you decide to enlighten the Internet world by writing opinion columns, it is safe to assume that everyone on the net hates cruelty to animals, frat boys in tight pink shirts with flip flops, Hummers, lobbyists and the Bush Administration. Everyone loves the troops (in the abstract), racial and religious tolerance (in theory), the Prius, and puppies and kitties. Do try for a little originality.

So, I am really only cudgeling for opinion columns which zero-in on the hidden blind spots and prejudices which slide, like a snake’s second eye-lid, over rigorous thinking and insight. The words which dig into awareness, lasering away smugness or fuzzy thinking, flaying away the comfortable ability to fudge the brutal truth, which protects the human mind from the fact that life’s a bitch.

But for God’s sake, let them leave us the consolation of humor, no matter how black, biting, or bitter. The highest form of defense mechanism, to laugh at ourselves, and our condition, our mistakes and the mess we make of our lives and societies.

So that we can laugh at our stupidity, and wish we were emus.



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