Along the Tracks

Sunday, January 25, 2004

The Sunday Marilounacy

It's Sunday, meaning the Toledo Blade has once again provided a forum for the senseless drivel of Marilou Johanek. You remember Marilou, don't you? News reader at Channel 11 for a few years, signed on by The Blade to provide "commentary," apparently because Blade bigwigs think somebody who sits on their duff reading the news out loud for 26 minutes a day is more qualified to provide perspective than real journalists out interviewing people, doing research and writing stories. I'm sure all the many hard-working Blade staff writers appreciated the snub.

Anyway, Marilou's occasional fits of malice are entertaining. Sometimes she attacks drug addicts. Sometimes she attacks oppressed people. Sometimes she just calls everybody stupid. Invariably, she finds conservatism to be the root cause of all evil.

Today's rant is typical. Marilou has finally gotten around to write on the concealed-carry law passed and signed in Ohio last month. It's impossible to argue against her position - that the law is horrible - because she doesn't argue. She just tells us so.

First, she says Ohioans are against the law by "a healthy majority." Really? She fails to provide any recitation of poll numbers or other measures of opinion. She just says so. The last poll I've seen on the issue was from last summer (with 69% against concealed carry), before the public debate was really in the news - in other words, before voters were able to make informed decisions. I'd be interested to see a poll now, especially considering the lack of interest in any kind of ballot initiative to rescind the law.

Second, Marilou claims the ban on concealed weapons "had served Ohioans well for 145 years." Tell that to all the victims of muggings, robberies and burglaries, who were restricted in the ways they could defend themselves. Here's a news bulletin for Marilou: Crime has gone up drastically in the past century and a half. How can you possibly claim people are safer? Of course, those who most need to protect themselves - night clerks at carryouts and gas stations, men and women who live in inner cities and are forced to use public transportation, etc. - do not run in Marilou's circles, and their needs are inconsequential to her.

Third, the news reader insists on displaying her ignorance to all by continually bashing democracy. "[T]he fortunate few wielding the gavel reward the fortunate few because they can" is her description of Ohio government, overwhelmingly controlled by Republicans. My readers know very well that I have my own qualms about the leadership the GOP has demonstrated, but who in their right mind can claim the power they wield is illegitimate? They were all duly elected, most of them by huge margins in the last election. The Ohio Democrats have been in utter disarray precisely because they offer no appealing alternative. Appealing to who? Appealing to voters!

Marilou, your confidence in knowing the best way to run the state or the nation or the world has no more weight in the democratic system than mine, or my neighbor Dean's, or a college student's or a press operator's or a senior in an assisted living home. Democracy requires convincing independent agents to join behind a single issue or candidate. For all their faults, the Ohio Republicans have done a spectacular job of attracting votes. I can consider and appreciate - sometimes even agree with - criticisms of policy. Unfortunately, Marilou consistently makes criticisms of process - the democratic process. If she believes that the people should not have the right to choose their representatives in government, then she really is a member of the hard, totalitarian left.

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