Letter to the Editor: Misuse or abuse? Who judges?

George Roof’s DSN Commentary (11/29) begins with a hesitant quote of Mark Twain. In short, it says if you don’t read you will be ignorant and if you do read you will learn only lies. It is a dilemma and Roof did not provide a solution to it but I will: first, read all opinions; second, be — or try to be — fair in judging those opinions.

Roof also took Mark Twain’s quote out of Twain’s context, which was that we get parts of our education outside of our formal schooling. Roof was fair to admit his uncertainty as to whether Twain was the correct source for the saying. But then you could question whether Roof was being fair as he threw Mark Twain’s name around like he did. Or, can I say that Roof might have “misused or abused” his literary license by doing this?

Roof then goes on to bash the current impeachment proceedings as — according to Roof’s judgment — totally unfair. And, as he implies further on, it is all the Democrats fault anyway. He did acknowledge that “…seemingly very few, open-minded Democrats…” exist but does this imply that most if not all Republicans are 90-100% open-minded?

It is funny that the same day I read Roof’s commentary I saw an internet article on vox.com with the title: “House Democrats have passed nearly 400 bills. Trump and Republicans are ignoring them.” This sounds to me like the problem might not just be due to the Democrats. The article did say that many bills were bipartisan. So, can I say that Roof “misused and abused” his literary license some more by complaining only about Democrats?

Roof made many other dubious remarks but I will point out the worst. He said “A literate person needs no outside interpretation [about the meaning of the words of our Constitution].” So, if you can’t be literate if you don’t read and if you do read you will be wrong, then Roof has set up a paradox. Roof has forgotten that the whole purpose of the congressional and judicial branches of our government are for interpretations, changes, creations, repeals of laws, dispute resolutions, etc., as well as being sensitive and receptive to the wishes of “We the people….”

This refutes Roof’s claim that a literate person needs no outside interpretation. Roof could be — on the other hand — be made to be “correct” if we allow “fundamentalist” thinking (meaning by “authority and inerrancy”). But that would be inconsistent with our freedom of speech right which any literate person should know is in our Constitution, too. This right implies that different opinions and interpretations can exist.

The rest of Roof’s piece is picturesque rhetoric but in terms of substance it looks like it is pretty full of “misuse and abuse,” too.

Arthur E. Sowers

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