Online Opinion Outpost: March 3, 2015

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The Opinion Outpost features opinions and commentary on the latest hot topics from national news sources. As much as you love hearing from The Universe, we thought you might like to hear from journalists around the nation.

Spock lived long and prospered
Gene Seymour, CNN

Mr. Spock belongs to Leonard Nimoy, who died Friday at age 83. And though he doesn’t take Spock with him, he and Spock remain inseparable.
Nimoy often insisted otherwise. He even wrote a book with the title, “I Am Not Spock” (1977) that was bought by millions of readers. By 1995, he cried “uncle” by publishing a followup autobiography, “I Am Spock.” In the years before and since, he carried his character’s legacy with the grace and class he exhibited in other areas of his life.
Nimoy had a hand, so to speak, in creating one of Spock’s most indelible traits: The “live-long-and-prosper” split-finger salute that Nimoy had borrowed from an approximation of the Hebrew letter shin, the first letter in the word Shaddai, one of the Hebrew names for God.

 

O’Reilly fib factor
USA Today

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly pitches himself to viewers as a brave truth-teller, outraged by the partisan spin that has taken over the national debate. Judging by his ratings, that message sells.
But now O’Reilly stands exposed of the same kind of puffed-up truth-bending he so regularly derides on his show. O’Reilly said he was in “active war zones” in the Falklands in 1982. He wasn’t. He said he survived a “combat situation in Argentina.” He didn’t. He said he “saw nuns get shot in the back of the head.” Nope. Not even in the same country.
True, O’Reilly is more opinionator than journalist. And the Falklands War happened a long time ago. But the facts still matter, and they are just as good a yardstick for O’Reilly as they are for recently suspended NBC News anchor Brian Williams.
By journalism ethics, Fox should distance itself from its truth-challenged employee. But that’s not likely to happen because for Fox and its fans, credibility is established by different means. Having common enemies matters more than factual detail. That’s why Fox has left a canyon-wide gap between its standards and those of NBC.
NBC took its tarnished anchor off the air; Fox let O’Reilly use his show to go on the attack. NBC executives began an investigation of Williams; Fox News CEO Roger Ailes publicly backed his marquee talent. Williams apologized; O’Reilly threatened journalists writing about him.
NBC tried to make itself better. Fox went to war.

 

Walker’s faith judgment
Michael Gerson, The Washington Post

When Scott Walker pronounced himself agnostic about President Obama’s patriotism and Christian faith, it must have seemed like a clever formulation. “I’ve never asked him, so I don’t know,” he said. And about Obama’s Christianity: “I’ve never asked him that.”
Walker quickly found his pitch unequal to the presidential big leagues. His argument can’t be generalized into a rule. As political attacks go, this one is particularly heavy-handed — the equivalent of saying: As far as I know, my opponent is not a swindler and a degenerate.
Faith requires a conscious and highly consequential decision — a choice that some do not make.
Questioning this affirmation involves a serious charge — an accusation of the worst sort of cynicism. And it is simply not the role of a Christian layman to publicly dispute the self-identification of other Christians, especially in a political context. It is a practice that can lead down ugly alleys of sectarianism.

 

‘Net neutrality’
The Los Angeles Times

The Federal Communications Commission is expected to adopt a contentious set of rules Thursday that, in order to preserve the freedom of consumers and content providers online, dramatically limits the freedom that Time Warner Cable, AT&T and other Internet service providers have long enjoyed. Net neutrality rules aim to prevent the companies that connect consumers to the Internet from influencing what their customers do online by prioritizing the traffic from selected content and service providers for a fee or otherwise favoring some sites’ bits over competing sites’ bytes. Such interference would fundamentally alter the Internet, transforming it gradually from a hotbed of new ideas into a curated selection of ISP-approved content — the online equivalent of cable TV. If the system allowed for vibrant competition among broadband ISPs, perhaps there would be no need for government regulation. But that’s not the case: Most neighborhoods have only one or two options for truly high-speed Internet access.
The commission is crafting neutrality rules now because its last set was rejected in January 2014 by a federal appeals court.

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