December 6, 2007

Open Letter to Sherri Shepherd

Dear Ms. Shepherd,

First, I want to just say that I enjoyed your performance on Less Than Perfect. OK, I watched it mostly for Sara Rue, but you were a great part of that show. It must have been really tough working with Andy Dick and Eric Roberts on a daily basis, so I have to commend you. I'm not a big fan of The View, but my mother and my aunt watch your show daily. (Plus, working with the other hosts must be a dream compared to working with Mr. Dick and Mr. Roberts)

However, you've come under fire for making some recent - as well as past - uninformed comments. Normally, my tendency is to make some pithy-yet-sarcastic crack, such as, "You put a couple of extra spoonfuls of stupid in your coffee this morning, didn't you?" However, that's not fair to fact, your comments real demonstrate the major problem we are having in this country.

Basically, this country suffers from a distinct lack of critical thinking skills.

My fellow blogger Greg, of Delenda Est Carthago and Comics Should Be Good, recently wondered aloud why more people seemed to be afraid of gay marriage, but not of impending illiteracy. Mostly, I suspect, it's because reading and writing actually take some work - it means moving past one's own assumptions and actually being challenged. It is a lot easier to stay in the "safety" zone of prejudice than to move forward. It's one of the reasons why I have a real problem with Ellen DeGeneres - she publicly cried over giving up a dog after breaking the adoption agency's rules, yet caved when it came to supporting the WGA Strike. One is a personal distress where she had to take some responsibility; the other has greater implications for public welfare and she chose to avoid responsibility.

Consider two game shows that are incredibly popular. One - Deal or No Deal - could be easily dismissed as Jeopardy for dumb people. However, that is an insult to Jeopardy, Alex Trebek, fans and former contestants, including near-twin Roger. This contempt for basic evaluation reaches its nadir with Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, which openly shows its contempt for anything resembling adult, contemplative thought. (The answer is yes, I am smarter than 5th grader, because I refuse to accept anything blindly without considering known fact as well as other opinions)

Case in point, Ms. Shepherd - I recently read The God Delusion, a book by noted atheist Richard Dawkins. As someone who is a Jesuit-educated Catholic, I have my issues with the Church, especially a Pope more concerned with turning back the clock than the spiritual welfare of his congregation in an ever-changing time. Am I going to become a full-out atheist? No - short version: the universe is too orderly to have happened randomly. But conversely, the skies did not open, I was not struck down by lightning. I was open, and found...some good arguments, but nothing convincing.

My advice, Ms. Shepherd, is to read more books. Books that you normally might not read, and that may actually have ideas counter to your own. You could order some through this blog's bookstore...but since you have a child, why don't I suggest taking him to the library? Libraries have tons of great resources, and more importantly - they allow you to explore different areas of thought, to stimulate your imagination, and more importantly - to paraphrase a famous thinker, how attacking reason can be bad theology.

(For you atheists out there - I may not totally agree with you, but I see where you're coming from. Keep fighting the good fight. I'm a sympathetic ally)

Thanks for reading, Ms. Shepherd.

Your pal,

P.S. Again, I am really, really sorry you had to work with Andy Dick and Eric Roberts. I hope the experience wasn't too traumatic.

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