Ideas fair game in public discourse

I was recently criticized in cyber-space. Here’s what was posted: “Surprised that the News published this snarky letter, which obviously was aimed at one person with whom the writer has a political disagreement with.” They went on to ask what a “natural born” anthropologist was. Here’s what I replied:

I’m not taking aim at one person. I’m taking aim at the whole swath of right-wing extremist in our area, Kearbearians, who Kearbear is representative of and prolific spoke-person for in cyber-space. Or does hiding out in cyber-space make Kearbear immune from criticism? I think not. Besides, Kearbear isn’t a person. Kearbear has made themselves emblematic of a political persuasion.

You know who I am, the face behind the Natural Born Anthropologist in cyber-space. You are more than welcome to criticize me personally for my public views any time any place. That’s what’s to be expected when you go public; that’s what newspapers, as the 4th rail, are, at their best, all about — fostering public and political discourse in the “market place of ideas.” Quite frankly I don’t know who Kearbear is and I don’t give a darn. But Kearbear as a mindset is more than fair game.

What’s a natural born anthropologist? Have you ever heard of a natural born baseball or football player or a natural born musician or writer or painter? Pardon me for my ego, criticize it for all you will, but I’m kind of like that. What’s an anthropologist? Go look it up.

Anyway, I’m my own worst critic. If you really want to take aim at my screed, criticize me for my chronology on when Denny Hastert became Speaker of the House. The correct date was 1999. The Republican Party came out of the political wilderness in 1994 to take control of the House with Newt Gingrich becoming Speaker.  (I won’t get into my anthropological sentiments about the Newt.)

Thus, I stand corrected even by me. Chronology and facts are important. I just wish Kearbearians were capable of standing corrected. Just ask Kearbear about the chronology of the history of the national debt. You’ll see what I mean.

Anyway, academic anthropologists sleep well. They go to sleep reading Claude Levi-Strauss. Myself, as a natural born anthropologist, I go to sleep reading Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut and, believe it or not, Shakespeare: To be or not to be, that is the question.

Tim O’Leary 

(Natural Born Anthropologist)