Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - September 21, 1974, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Saturday, September 21, 1974
I IMH P
Way with words
By Theodore M. Bernstein
WE HAVE ALL heard the expression to the nth degree, as in, “The play was boring to the nth degree " A friend inquires about the meaning and origin of the expression
Basically n is a mathematical symbol and it refers to the final item in an infinitely increasing or decreasing series of numbers, values or whatnot. To the nth degree, therefore, means to an infinite degree or, in common usage, to an extreme.
Ain't bad. Sooner or later someone was bound to raise again the question of the word ain't. J. Harrison Knox of Willow Grove, Pa., finds it a justifiable contraction in “Ain’t I?” and says it is “much better than the pseudo-euphonious and ungrammatical ‘Aren’t I?’ ’’
In “The Story of Language” Mario Pei says that ain't as a substitute for am not or are not was established in current
usage by King Charles IL That would date it back some three centuries. When it became substandard is difficult to establish But Porter G. Perrin in “Writer’s Guide and Index to English” says that “prejudice against it among educated people has been almost unanimous for the last half century or so."
There can be no doubt that am t I is easier to say than aren't I or amn't I and sounds less stilted than am I not. Nevertheless, what should be not always is. Incidentally, Webster’# New International Dictionary, third edition, says that am t is “used orally in most parts of the U. S. by many cultivated speakers esp. in the phras'* ain't I," a statement that is open to serious doubt.
Word oddities. These days leopardy is no joke, but embedded in the word is some slight sense of a joke. I he word comes from the Old French jeu parti, meaning a game in which the chances were even. But that French term dater! back to the Latin focus partitas, in which the focus part referred to a game or joke and the partitas part had to do with part or division. The origin-! and now obsolete meaning of jeopardy was a dilemma, as in a game. Today, of course, the word means danger or peril, which is no laughing matter.
New York Time* Svndicote
By William Safire
WASHINGTON - You are the President’s press secretary. You are privy to a secret which, if revealed, could force the President into premature action. A reporter with a small piece of the secret asks you about it.
What do you do? You could say you do not know, which is a lie. You could say you know the story is untrue, which is a worse lie. You could become suddenly unavailable, which is a betrayal of your job responsibility. Or you could tell the truth, thereby betraying the President’s trust and isolating you from access to private discussions in the future.
Subtler alternatives exist. You could say “There are no present plans to do
that,” which is journalistic argot for “Plans will soon be announced, but I cannot say so now.”
Or you could say. insultingly, “I won t say, and I don’t care how often you badger me or how many different ways you put the question,” thereby calling down wrath about the arrogance of power. Or you may repeat blandly “I have no information to give you on that,” which will soon be denounced as “stonewalling.”
President Ford’s first press secretary, Gerald terHorst, saw that the dilemma would soon become intolerable. He probably quit because other White House aides did not tell him the whole truth about pre-pardon negotiations; but if they had, and his disagreement with policy had been noted and set aside, he would then have had the problem of misleading, ducking or blabbing. This was a truly terrifying prospect to a genuine newsman, and terHorst wisely
stepped out, to universal acclaim, on grounds of conscience.
To come to grips with the problem this illustrates, change roles. You are
now the President. You may be reconsidering some foreign policy and not
want to face a question that forces you to repeat the old line (which you may change soon) or reveal the fact of your review (which may lead to no change). In next week’s news conference, you will be prepared to handle it decisively.
Meanwhile, what do you do about your Daniel, who has to climb into the lions’ den twice a day and might face that question? Do you tell him about your secret deliberation, asking him to turn aside those questions in his most guileful way, or do you keep him in the dark, so that he can be honest in his ignorance, even if later scorned for not having access to inner councils?
Change roles a final time. You are now The Press. (Playing the hero is more fun.) Do you want a press secretary who is a poker-faced unflappable who knows how to give you so much, let you pull out an anticipated 20 percent more in questioning, and then skillfully shuts the door in your face as he slips into confidential discussions in the Oval Office?
Or would you prefer one of your own, a respected newsman, who will fight for more openness in the administration, who will never shade the truth, but who will be treated by the President as an in-house adversary, dealt with but not trusted? He will be a valuable ally, but he will not lie much of a source.
Are you better served by a man who knows and cannot tell, but who will not lie, or by one who does not know and may unintentionally mislead0
Though it makes us all feel better to sound off about a press secretary who will “tell the truth,” the truth is that his job is often to withhold the truth, never to lie — that is wrong — but to put on a poker face and be less than candid on matters that are half-baked or on the verge of decision.
Why, then, in an assignment that requires the same kind of compromise with principle that reporters make when misleading readers to protect a source, do we yearn for the imagery of a crusty news-hawk in the job of one who must deny information to crusty news hawks0 “One of our own” will soon have to cross the street, and on-the-job training is costly: Are newsmen not better off with a
professional spokesman who understands the professional needs of journalists0
A good press secretary speaks up for the press to the President and speaks out for the President to the press. He makes his home in the pitted no-man’s-land of an adversary relationship and is primarily an advocate, interpreter and amplifier. He must be more the President’s
Last Wills testament
To the Editor:
. . . Your editorial of Sept. 13 unsuccessfully attempted to thwart any comparison of Lou Brock and Maury Wills and their base-stealing prowess.
To say that Brock now runs against “better pitchers and catchers” resembles heresy. At this late state of the season the National league has not a single 20-game winner, which seems to be the most popular indicator as to the caliber of a pitcher. If what you say is true, then people like Warren Spahn. Lew Burdette, Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal and Bob Friend just don’t stack up With today’s fireballers. I for one won’t buy that inference.
As for “better catchers," I assume you mean such Hall-of-Fame-bound backstops as Rader, Boone. Foote. Swisher, Oates, Kendall, May and Hodges. These are the gentlemen who made Larcenous Lou’s dream come true. It could bi* they all have potential, but let’s face it — they are not Johnny Bench or Del Crandall (remember him?).
Consider: In 1974 Brock will also play against two teams destined to lose IOO games. Chicago and San Diego.
Consider: While swiping 105 bases thus far, Brock has been caught 20 times attempting to steal. Wills, while swiping 104 bases, was caught only 13 times. Your statement of Brock being “much superior” looks a little shaky.
Consider: Brock, even with 35-year-old legs, has done wonders Wills, however. played shortstop day in and day out — a much more demanding, exhausting position . . .
Michael Schug 2050 (ilass road NE
To the Editor
Recently in The Gazette several statements on the advantages of a zoo have appeared I question the validity of these advantages.
It has been said that a zoo will educate people. I don’t feel that a zoo is educational In the zoos that I haw* seen and even in most films of zoos that I have seen, including barless enclosure zoos, the animals do little but lie around The main exception is when I saw the lion in Bever park make a very good attempt to urinate on some small children, teaching them the valuable lesson not to stand too close to the cage
Zoos simply do not provide animals the opportunity to carry on their natural behavior which might teach people something worthwhile Zoos generally cause unnatural behavior which give people incorrect ideas.
It has also been said that a zoo in Cedar Rapids would help iii the conservation of wildlife. There are plenty of zoos in existence already that can provide plenty of animals to preserve eo
nian than the press’ man, but he can be his own man as well
An honest man can take the job and infuse it with his own integrity. We make it harder for him to be honest by demanding he shut his eyes to the shades of gray arid pretend to be “one of our own.”
New York Times Service
dangered species. Any operation to restock the wild would be costly, difficult, expensive, and require special skills. I doubt that a Cedar Rapids zoo could provide significant help to the conservation movement. I can see no real benefit to a zoo
Roger Weis 2941 Meadowbrook drive SE
To the Editor:
In answer to John I. Smith’s letter of Sept. 17: Mr. Smith quoted the Bible as saying, “The soul that sinneth shall surely die. The murderer shall surely be put to death ”
I don’t know where this scripture was found, but I would presume in the Old Testament. I feel this left a lot of people in a state of hopelessness. The Old Testament was governed by the law, but in the New Testament God s “new plan” of salvation overwrote the old laws. Not that we don’t have to follow them, but if we have committed sin. through the “new plan” we are now offered forgiveness through repentance. This forgiveness is covered by the sacrifice of Jesus at Calvary (the cross). All we have to do is ask for it and repent.
All of us are guilty of sin, and if Mr Smith s quote was our only hope, then none of us would be allowed in heaven. According to the Bible, we are all guilty of sin.
As far as his comments on President Ford an* concerned, the Bible also says that God has control of the government. He gives us the kind of ruler we deserve as a people. If we are going to take it on ourselves to judge Presidents Ford or Nixon, then maybe we also should take a closer look at ourselves.
Lana M. Baker 14(1 Eleventh avenue, Hiawatha
To the Editor
Members of Veterans’ Public Safety ( nit No I would like* to thank everyone who helped make our auction of Sept 8 the success that it was To thank each person individually would Im* an enormous task. The funds will help finance the State Reserve Law Officers’ Assn convention that the unit will host in March, 1975. All help and donations were greatly appreciated
Sgt Michael Bonney, aution chairman
4408 Lee street NE
The Gazette s editorial page welcomes readers opinions, subject to tbeso guidelines:
length limit 400 word*
One letter per writer every 30 days
All may be conden»#d and edited without changing meaning
None published anonymously
Writer s telephone number (not printed) should follow name, address and readable handwritten signature to help authenticate
Contents deal more with issues and events than per sodalities
Homing chickens roost in snooty Boston
Inflation scope misjudged
IF BRAINSTORMING taking place at economic mini-summits is an indication of dialog forthcoming at the President’s summit on inflation control (Sept. 27-28), the nation should brace itself for a blast of hot air.
At a Chicago session the other day, for example, Agriculture Secretary Butz remarked, “We tighten our belt where we can if we need to during inflation.’’ Which prompted L. L. Boger, Michigan State university agriculture school dean, to reply: “The belt may have a few holes for tightening for the poor, widows and retirees.”
Whether Dr. Boger enlarged upon his correct statement was not indicated in press dispatches seen here. If he did continue, he may have observed that those who are able to follow Mr. Butz’ belt-tightening nostrum without severe discomfort comprise a minority of the population.
Retired persons, widows and those subsisting on poverty incomes of course show the most dramatic results of double-digit inflation’s impact. Nearly as compelling, though, is the plight of millions of lowland lower-middle income workers whose pay increases have been outstripped by inflation each of the last half dozen years — even during the Nixon administration’s ill-starred economic controls.
Curiously, many, if not most, of the bureaucrats assigned to study inflation tend to lump those
austerity-income earners with Big Labor union members whose demands are knocking the economy even further out of alignment. The stereotyping is vivid: If a man holds the title “laborer,” he is automatically viewed as receiving $9.90 per hour and grasping for $2 more.
The media probably could puncture such myths, but the performance so far has been a mixed bag. On TV, for example, each meticulous recounting of travails in the Kentucky hills or Philadelphia ghetto receives less attention than idiotic comedies showing low-income families living in attractive apartments.
Earlier this year, a University of Michigan study revealed that nearly 85 million Americans were eligible for welfare benefits some time during the last six years (though welfare program participants total 25 million). Whatever that says about the welfare eligibility ceiling, it is clear that 4(1 percent of the population indeed can tighten belts little more.
Will President Ford’s inflation control summit signal a turnaround in the struggle with superinflation? Certainly the public forum promises larger capacity for diagnosing symptoms than any of the private sessions staged by the Nixon White House. But tangible, satisfying results will come only if delegates belay the chic suggestions (“tighten belts! eat peanut butter like we did in school”) and begin understanding the scope of economic hardship in America.
Mf. Mercy's good health
FOR THE sixth straight year since switching to coeducation, Mt. Mercy college in Cedar Rapids has seen an increase in enrollment. The former school for women now has 822 students (more than 25 percent male) — almost twice the number registered for classes in 1968.
Such growth would be noteworthy any time, but it is particularly remarkable in light of the national dropoff in college enrollment in the early 1970s. Surging popularity of two-year colleges, especially those emphasizing vocational-technical training; inflation-bloated tuition rates, end of the draft — these factors and others have combined to bring many colleges to a crisis point. What has enabled Mt. Mercy to move so successfully against the current?
Beyond the prudent decision to go coeducational, college administrators have enlarged the aca
demic program (bachelor’s degrees now offered in 19 different areas) and have enabled graduates of two-year colleges to transfer to Mt. Mercy with junior standing. Importantly, too, the school has effectively advertised its new attributes.
Such robust health clearly helps insulate this community against the malaise now afflicting higher education. Even those who have never viewed the scenic campus on the hill in northeast Cedar Rapids are beneficiaries of that strength.
Isn t it the truth?
By Carl Riblet, jr.
Marriage has different attractions for different people. Those who marry for love want somethin? wonderful and they sometimes get it. The people who marry because they want to escape something, usually don’t.
“No man is so virtuous as to marry a wife only to have children. "
interOceon Pres* Syndicate
By James J. Kilpatrick
WASHINGTON — Over a period til many years, in the bad old days of segregation, southerners smarted under the superior morality of Boston. For a few days last week, these same southerners might have been forgiven a sense of retribution, Up in Boston, the white folks were crying "Nevah!"
The mind rolled back to April of 1984 in St. Augustine, Fla. Among the leaders of a civil rights march was Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Peabody, wife of a retired Episcopal bishop, and mother of Governor Endicott Peabody. She had come down from Boston, along with a couple of Boston pastors, to instruct the Deep South in brotherhood.
The story got quite a play at the time. Mrs. Peabody wound up by spending a night in jail, charged with trespass. Pictures of the Boston contingent made all the papers. The general idea was that all the bigots were down in Dixie and all the angels of enlightenment were up north in Massachusetts, and why couldn’t the southerners be like them?
Well, chickens come home to roost, and last week they were roosting in
Boston. A federal district judge, VV. Arthur Garrity, had ordered integration of the Roxbury and South Boston communities. Pursuant to his order. South Boston high school, which last year enrolled 2,178 whites and 15 blacks, was to have 1,804 whites and 941 blacks.
White parents protested. They protested violently. Some black parents also objected to busing their children miles away to alien schools. Newspapers anil television brought vivid accounts of jeering crowds, racial epithets, helmeted police, angry voices. White parents bitterly united in a boycott Some objectors were arrested. And all this took place, of all places, in Boston, Mass.
Very well It is perhaps unkind to rub it rn. South Boston’s reaction to Judge Garrity’s order tends to confirm Simmons’ Law, formulated some years ago by a distinguished Mississippian, which holds that one’s enthusiasm for coerced integration increases by the square of the distance by which one is removed from the actual event. So long as raeial-balance busing was decreed only in the South, many northerners thought such orders were great. Is it conceivable that even Senator Kennedy may have second thoughts now?
Our sympathy is cold to the relation of distant misery.
Racial-baiance busing, which triggered the Boston violence, strikes me as dead wrong no matter where it is ordered. Here were the innocent black children of Roxbury, herded onto buses for shipmen into a hostile neighborhood, for one re^.on only: Their skins were black. And here were the white children being shipped for a like reason: Their skins were white.
North or South, this is racism Such
court orders violate not only the colorblind Constitution: they violate the essential dignity of the human spirit as well ^
Does raeial-balance busing promote better education? The evidence in support of that proposition is remarkably flimsy Does racial-busing promote better race relations? That notion is nonsense. So long as children arc* labeled. certified, and carted around because they are black, or because they are white, they cannot escape a constant awareness of race
Perhaps good comes out of evil Perhaps the unhappy news from Boston — news in which no one truly can find any satisfaction whatever — will help to form a national constituency for sanity in our rare relations.
Once we perceive that prejudice knows no Mason-Dixon Line, that man’s inhumanity to man is no greater in the South than in the North, and that resentment against coercion stirs families in the same way everywhere, perhaps we approach understanding. With national understanding, in time, perhaps some national answers can be found.
Woshington Star Syndicate
‘Why must we demand one of our own?’
I deserted the war on poverty back in I 968 ’