The Breakfast Table

Seven Months of Punditry Illuminated

Dear Lucianne,

To quote a president you probably admire, “There you go again.”

” … [S]omebody has to do it,” you say. I disagree passionately. Nobody has to do it. Nobody should do it. And while you obviously haven’t broken down any doors, you did play a part in exposing two people, neither of whom (as you yourself concede) was committing a crime and neither of whom chose to be exposed. “Breaking down doors” was a phrase used metaphorically, and I stand by the metaphor.

However, I also believe our differences on this matter are clear enough by now, and there’s not much profit in belaboring them further. If we continue, we’d merely be reiterating our positions. I will say again that I’m pleased you’ve made your feelings so explicit; doing so illuminates the events of the last seven months more effectively than all the reams of punditry to which we’ve been exposed.

If there are any motels in your neighborhood, they’re probably scouting new locations even as I write.

In terms of moving on to other subjects, though, the newspapers persist in being really huge impediments. Do you feel like discussing the Russian ruble? I sure don’t. Did you actually go out and buy those Schumann symphonies? I’m up for discussing those. They may not qualify as news exactly, but CDs are media too, aren’t they?

There is one ghastly story in today’s paper that’s tangentially related to something you wrote in your last letter, and since it also has the novelty of being local–few news stories originate in this little college town I call home, unless they involve some Nobel Prize-winning scientific discovery–it might be worth mentioning. A UC Berkeley undergraduate allegedly witnessed the brutal rape and murder of a little girl perpetrated by his best friend in a Las Vegas men’s room. He didn’t intervene, and he didn’t alert any authorities. He simply absented himself. And since Nevada has no law requiring witnesses to report crimes, no legal sanctions were imposed on him. He starts his sophomore year here today, and a huge noontime rally is planned to protest his presence on campus and demand his expulsion. The university claims, since the student didn’t break any law, to be powerless to intervene in any way.

Is there even a tiny scintilla of something redemptive in a story like that? I can’t find it.