Brad Harrington

The Cheyenne Herald: Is The War ON?

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THE CHEYENNE HERALD: IS THE WAR ON?

By Bradley Harrington

In addition to the main daily paper here in Cheyenne, the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, which I write a weekly column for, another paper exists as well: The Cheyenne Herald, a bi-weekly tab, produced solely by a gentleman by the name of David Featherly. With rare exceptions, he writes the entire content of the Herald, and serves as an occasionally useful offset to the WTE, covering news and events sometimes not covered by the WTE and from a decidedly different editorial perspective.

In addition to his print editions, Mr. Featherly also posts all of his articles and commentaries online in PDF format here.

Mr. Featherly has taken a few swipes at me here and there, but always been ambiguous enough so that his rants merely constitute his opinion, and he has never bothered to name me my name.

In his last issue, however, of Dec. 28th, in an article by the name of "Teacher Tenure," he decided to take the gloves off and deal with me a little more in-depth than his usual one-or-two-sentence drive-bys.

This piece below is what I chose to email him in return. And, since I doubt very strongly that he'll have the guts to print it, as he NEVER prints anything critical to his own name, I'm reproducing it here.

********************

Hello Mr. Featherly:

My, but you have truly outdone yourself this time. I refer to your article, “Teacher Tenure,” published in the Cheyenne Herald’s Dec. 28th issue. Normally, I would not have believed that someone could include so many incorrect statements in such a short space, but you have proved me wrong.

Let’s start off with your opening line, “I have often made the point here that I am leery of anyone who is ‘too’ anything. Too religious. Too honest. Too faithful. Too straight. A ‘too’ person is suspect and evidence often bears out why.”

Since you don’t bother to offer any evidence of that claim, there’s not much to refute, except the actual claim itself: That being “too” something is a bad thing per se. For make no mistake about it, you aren’t merely claiming that you have an issue with any particular examples of “too-ness,” such as the ones you listed; your use of the word “anything” makes it clear that your problem is with the very concept of “too-ness” itself.

To which I would ask: Really? So, you must think it’s a bad thing for someone to be too intelligent. Or too healthy. Or to have too much integrity. Or to get the right answers too much of the time. Which can only mean: you prefer your people to be just a little stupid; to possess just a little disease; to lie just a little every now and then; and to get it wrong at least some of the time. Yes? Great company you keep. And is it safe to assume that you, yourself, are a representative of this approach as well?

You speak of the “evidence bearing out why”; I have a similar story. I’ve noticed, over the years, that the people who have the biggest problems with absolute values, who seek the most not to be judged according to the actual facts of reality, are the ones who are looking for a blank check on their actions, who seek co-signers for their failures, and who most wish to avoid the rigors of a principled moral code. Do I need to point out what kind of evils are promoted, and what kinds of goods are crushed, by such an outlook? Moral relativism disengages man’s actions from both judgment and justice, thereby trashing morality completely - yet I notice that you have no problem, yourself, with making such blanket condemnations on a regular basis.

And, indeed, your very next paragraph is a perfect example: “I also shy away from using absolutes when describing things. I have found that there are exceptions to every rule and to throw everyone of a common thread into one class doesn’t hold up.” “Exceptions,” you say…to every rule? How about the rule that people shouldn’t kill one another except in self-defense? Or the rule that 2 plus 2 equals 4? It would be interesting to hear what you consider to be valid exceptions to these, and a thousand other such, rules.

And, furthermore, isn’t the very statement that “There are no absolutes” itself an absolute? Which, if true, would mean that your original statement is false. But if it’s false, then it can’t be true, now can it? This, in philosophy, is known as an infinite regression of logical contradiction, the contemplation of which is often the chief delight of the intellectually feeble-minded. But whatever you want to call it, it bears no resemblance to actual reality. Again, the relativism of such an approach is quite apparent - and, again, to say that “everything is relative” can only mean that that statement is, itself, “relative” as well. So much for that circular nonsense.

Which is not to say, of course, that it’s right and proper to over-generalize and assume that all members of a group share identical characteristics by virtue of their membership in that group, for they do not. Yet it’s pretty difficult to count on your ability not to over-generalize when I see statements such as this:

“There are those, like a paid ‘columnist’ in other local media…who say, or suggest, that all teachers are bad and all public employees are lazy and overpaid.”

Really? Care to quote me on that? I challenge you, right here and right now, to produce ANY statement that I have ever made, in any article I have ever written anywhere, that even suggests that, much less actually states it. Indeed, in regard to teachers, I made the following statement - and in the very article you are referring to: “This is not to say that our schools here in Cheyenne don’t have some high-quality teachers.” And, if that wasn’t enough for over-generalizers such as yourself, whom I saw coming from miles off, I even devoted a paragraph to naming two of them: “Nathan Breen at Central High and Paul Crips at Carey Junior High, to name just two, are sterling examples of what is possible when teachers dedicate their time and energy to the educational process, and the results these men obtain with students speak for themselves.” (All quotes from “Let’s slaughter sacred cow of teacher tenure,” WTE, Dec. 18th, 2010.)

As for the public employees, in discussing Mr. McDonald’s attempted money grab of a few months ago, I said: “Now, to be fair, I don’t know that all city employees share Mr. McDonald’s viewpoint. Many of them, I’d wager, are just glad to have a job in today’s economic climate and are happy with what they have.” (“City bonuses: Mayor Kaysen slaps us right in the face,” WTE, Oct. 23rd.) And, when responding to Mr. Oisten’s (former city employee) rant of last spring, where he said, “So give the non-uniformed employees a break will ya? We just as human as you,” I said: “My call for layoffs and pay cuts is not to be interpreted, as you seem to think, as a heartless lack of recognition for honest work performed by the bulk of our city employees.” (“A city worker responds,” WTE, March 30th.)

So please spare me the over-generalized bilge present in this piece of trash article of yours; either present the facts or shut the hell up. We have more than enough distortions, misrepresentations and falsifications going on throughout the country today without you hysterically adding to the mix. I don’t’ believe that you have any interest in journalistic integrity at all; you merely use your paper as a weapon, childishly lashing out at whomever and whatever irritates your non-absolute “standards” of “objectivity” - i.e., of your whims.

And, since your alleged justifications for trashing me in your rag are all hereby proved as nonsense, the only conclusion I can draw is that you don’t like me for reasons you don’t care to name publicly - which is pretty cowardly if you ask me. If you have a problem with my ideas, and care to discuss them, bring it on. In my estimate however, based on what you spew, having some good old-fashioned guts isn’t very high on your list of non-absolutes either.

The rest of your rant, as it relates to teacher tenure, is full of more than a few misconceptions as well, and it is quite clear to me that you have no grasp of the free-market functioning of a completely privatized educational system, or of the benefits that would accrue to everyone in society as a result thereof. And, were I so inclined as to deem you teachable, I’d take the time and energy to discuss them with you. But why bother, when pompous pontifications is all I can expect in return? I’ll save my breath on that front for someone worthy of it.

As for the “Marine” statement at the end of the articles I write - most writers submit a sentence or two about themselves, a short “bio,” that says a little something about them. Since I don’t have the “virtue” of having attended some BS college somewhere and having gained some BS degree - indeed, I never even made it out of high school properly, having chosen to end the indoctrination in the 11th grade - I don’t have any high-falootin’ nonsense like “Brad Harrington got his Piled-Higher-And-Deeper degree at Jerkwater University in the field of Snow-Your-Readers-With-Collectivist-Twaddle” to place as an addendum to what I write. The USMC was the one thing in my life that I did right, in reality and on paper, and I am proud of the (limited, admittedly) time that I served. When I first started writing again a few years ago, after a 15-year hiatus as a result of my former drug usage, it occurred to me to place that on the end of my pieces, and no one has presented me with a good reason why I shouldn’t as of yet. Or did you have one to offer?

So, in closing, there is one other issue I’d like to address, for it has occurred to me that you will get all psychically-wounded by this email and vindictively seek to use your weapon-rag-paper as a means of getting even with me. Bring that on, too. Run all the backgrounds you want. You won’t find anything in my past that I haven’t already splattered all over the pages of the WTE myself last year. (For, I might add, precisely the purpose of defusing any such attempts on the part of members of city government upset with me for calling them on their trash. But it’ll work the same way for you as well.) Should you care to refer to that original article, since the WTE does not put its columnists online, you’ll have to go to my blog to review the piece:

http://timeforeverymantostir.blogspot.com/...phied-mind.html

If you want the actual dirt on the details, do the homework yourself. But let me give you fair warning: You’d better stick to the facts. Get it straight or don’t bother. Try to pull the distortionist tricks you’ve already demonstrated a huge propensity for, and the war’s on; I will drag you into court and sue your silly shorts off. And do it with a smile, and as a salute to the absolute values I’ve learned over the years to cherish so highly.

Other than that, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours as well.

With Regards,

Brad Harrington

********************

And, in closing here, I'm sure I haven't heard the last of Mr. Featherly. Which doesn't bother me a damn bit, for he has absolutely no idea just who he is dealing with. If he wants to find out, however, I'm in the mood for a good editorial rumble.

--

Bradley Harrington is a former U.S. Marine and a writer who lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming; he can be reached at timeforeverymantostir@yahoo.com.

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For someone with the urge to publish his own paper with his opinions, this challenge must surely hit home. A shot of anti relativism medicine, a vial of absolutism to address weakness in moral backbone.

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First of all, Mr. Featherly need not be "too" worried that all "former sailors", or columnists ("paid"! or not) will be "lumped" with him. Characterizing his writing as bilge was spot on.

As I see it, this "former sailor" put a lame shot across your bow and was met with the appropriate reasoned broadside of well selected and accurately delivered intellectual ordinance.

Thanks, shipmate.

Jim Grabowski, CPO

United States Navy, Retired

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Relativists are cowards. This is why he hid behind the pages of his newspaper instead of saying these things to you directly. No wonder you didn't hear from him :blink:

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Brad, who are these guys?

Ted Adams, Jim McBride, Darrel Hammon.

Featherly lists them as people who shouldn't have the power to decide whether or not to fire teachers.

From Featherly's article

"The topic du jour is whether teachers should be protected by tenure. The supposition of that is that no teacher beyond the point of earning tenure can be dismissed for poor performance. Tenure is not a contract, albeit close. To simply favor removing tenure from the profession presupposes that those who would dismiss teachers for any, or no, reason are capable of that judgment themselves." [emphasis mine]

Well, duh yes.

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For someone with the urge to publish his own paper with his opinions, this challenge must surely hit home. A shot of anti relativism medicine, a vial of absolutism to address weakness in moral backbone.

Hi Arnold:

Haven't heard a word from him as of yet...but that wouldn't be his style anyway. His approach would be to do a nice two-page spread in his next issue. Barbie and I have been talking about this, and related topics, at length.

Featherly used to be Jack Spiker's campaign manager. He helped Spiker get elected Mayor in 2000. Some of the tactics they used were questionable. When Spiker didn't operate the Mayor's office the way Featherly thought he ought to have, they spilit and that's what caused Featherly to found the Herald. Over the years he has become the only true investigative paper in town, but the problem is that his investigations are generally driven by the axe he's still grinding against Spiker, who went on to be mayor again in 2004, and is now a City Councilman after not seeking re-election for the Mayor's office in 2008.

Despite using Spiker's economic mismanagement of Cheyenne as the springboard for some often great stories, Featherly's slant is decidedly to the Left. What Cheyenne REALLY needs is a paper capable of doing the same kind of in-depth investigative reporting, but with two other factors added in that the Herald lacks: (1) A clear separation of fact from opinion, and (2) A pro-liberty approach to that opinion when it is presented.

Might just be ready to found a new paper, my friend! So many opportunities, so little time...

With Regards,

Brad

timeforeverymantostir@yahoo.com

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First of all, Mr. Featherly need not be "too" worried that all "former sailors", or columnists ("paid"! or not) will be "lumped" with him. Characterizing his writing as bilge was spot on.

As I see it, this "former sailor" put a lame shot across your bow and was met with the appropriate reasoned broadside of well selected and accurately delivered intellectual ordinance.

Thanks, shipmate.

Jim Grabowski, CPO

United States Navy, Retired

Heh heh heh! The thanks are decidedly in the other direction, sir. <salute> Thank YOU!

With Regards,

Brad

timeforeverymantostir@yahoo.com

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Relativists are cowards. This is why he hid behind the pages of his newspaper instead of saying these things to you directly. No wonder you didn't hear from him :blink:

I agree. But he's not stupid; just twisted. This tussle ain't over yet by a longshot. I have a feeling that the journalistic turf in Cheyenne is about to undergo some major modifications...

With Regards,

Brad

timeforeverymantostir@yahoo.com

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Brad, who are these guys?

Ted Adams, Jim McBride, Darrel Hammon.

Featherly lists them as people who shouldn't have the power to decide whether or not to fire teachers.

From Featherly's article

"The topic du jour is whether teachers should be protected by tenure. The supposition of that is that no teacher beyond the point of earning tenure can be dismissed for poor performance. Tenure is not a contract, albeit close. To simply favor removing tenure from the profession presupposes that those who would dismiss teachers for any, or no, reason are capable of that judgment themselves." [emphasis mine]

Well, duh yes.

Ted Adams is former Laramie County School District 1 superintendent. Jim McBride is former state superintendent of public instruction. Darryl Hammon is former president of Laramie County Community College. And all three of them truly are losers, for a variety of reasons which Featherly did a great job of exposing.

Featherly's mistake is too assume that instead of giving goons like these the power to fire teachers, the answer is to mire the rest of the educational establishment down in teacher tenure. The true answer is to fire their types as well, a topic I covered this week for Saturday's WTE, but which I can't post until after print time.

With Regards,

Brad

timeforeverymantostir@yahoo.com

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