“21st-Century Hubris: Free Speech, & More Of It”

Ruminant With A View

by Elizabeth Boleman-Herring

“Walk carefully, do not wake the envy of the happy gods, Shun Hubris.”

—C.S. Lewis, Poems (1964)

Elizabeth Boleman-HerringTEANECK, NJ—(Weekly Hubris)—3/1/10—Last Sunday’s The New York Times ran a brief Op/Ed piece in its “Week in Review” section which spoke to this former Journalism prof, this former small-newspaper publisher, this former glossy magazine editor as has no other recent story concerning the demise-of-Journalism-as-she-knew-it.

The piece, by Sheelah Kolhatkar, was titled “Have Keyboard, Will Travel,” and it dealt with the shedding, by print journalism’s shrinking array of “venues,” of their staff: full-time, salaried journalists, with bylines, benefits, and a commitment to fair and balanced reporting. Dinosaurs. Titans, some of them. (Like Prometheus who, in stealing fire for mankind from the decidedly whimsical, immoral, all-powerful, and probably-in-the-pocket-of-Big-Pharma-and-Big-Insurance Olympians, set an example for all fearless truth-speakers once the heyday of the Titans had ended.)

You know: all those former editors and columnists and reporters now populating Facebook and LinkedIn, tweeting on Twitter, and opening Gmail accounts—those newly-minted Paladins of the pageless “journal,” the audience-less-blog, the really-free free press? Except there is no press, as we knew it, any more. The landscape, once lush with newsprint and glossy magazines has gone all virtual on us, and we have to turn to cable (to Rachel, Keith and Ed, to find Titans or Titanesses with real day-jobs and truly elevated podiums).

And into this arid, noisy, shape-shifting, new environment, crowded with noisemakers, comes (yet another) small band of former writers-with-portfolio (and former writers without portfolio), the gaggle of Op/Edifiers comprising the Weekly Hubris. Just what y’all need: another online “paper.”

Well, yes: just what you need, as a matter of fact.

Hubris, from the Greek (of course: you’ve seen “My Big Fat Greek Wedding), means, roughly, “presumption.” And, since I selected this moniker for our site, I presume you may want a few words—just a few—of explanation. Why hubris?

In this case, our title is our mission statement: we’ll countenance no sacred cows hereabouts. We’re all for free speech, and we’re just the motley crew to speak (and draw) it.

Prometheus, the Greek Titan, an old-school, Liberal type, thought the gods (who might as well have been denizens of The Beltway, that Olympus-on-The Potomac), had a lot of goodies that needed sharing with mankind. Not just fire, (according to Wikipedia) but “all the civilizing arts, such as writing, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, metallurgy, architecture and agriculture.” (I’d add in The Public Option, tax breaks for the middle class, an immediate end to Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell, civil rights for The Gay, a finale, sans Blackwater, to our Endless War, etc., etc., but that’s just me.)

In fact, the gods, in Prometheus’s day, were determined to wipe out mankind (while Washington seems simply determined to wipe out anyone making under $250,000. per annum). . .and so the Titan snuck up to the holy mountain and went about his brothers’ and sisters’ business.

From Gotterdammerung.org, we learn a bit more: “His defiance is threatening the new order of the Olympians, he is a relic of the old world. No wonder he runs afoul of the new masters and has to be chastised regardless of the value of his services. The gods never seem to have cared much for being ‘nice’ anyway.”

So: perhaps that explains our title for you, in a nutshell. There are twelve of us at present, and who we are and what we’re up to is covered nicely in the mini-biographies to be found at the foot of our weekly contributions. (Well, eleven are mini-biographies: Michael House has written a sort of bio-epic, but he merits one, as you’ll see.)

And, for our sake, ignore the words of poet C.S. Lewis, which serve as this first “Ruminant’s” epigram: shun not hubris; shake up the all-too-happy “gods.” Come back to us, weekly, for a dozen slices of sheer, unadulterated “presumption.”

About Elizabeth Boleman-Herring

Elizabeth Boleman-Herring, Publishing-Editor of Weekly Hubris, and a columnist for The Huffington Post, considers herself an Outsider Artist (of Ink); a bargain-basement love-child of Lenny Bruce and Sylvia Plath (out of Erma Bombeck). The most recent of her 15 books is The Visitors’ Book (or Silva Rerum): An Erotic Fable. Her personal columns (written sans mask) make some readers squirm; her political columns, usually incendiary, make other readers squirm. (Boleman-Herring believes squirming is the 21st century’s antidote to sitting on the sofa watching “America's Got Talent” and “Project Runway.”) Thirty years an academic, she has also worked steadily as a founding-editor of journals, magazines and newspapers in her two homelands, Greece and America. Three other hats Boleman-Herring has at times worn are those of a Traditional Usui Reiki Master, an Iyengar-Style Yoga teacher and, as “Bebe Herring,” a jazz lyricist for the likes of Thelonious Monk, Kenny Dorham, and Bill Evans. (Her online Greek travel guide is accessible at www.GreeceTraveler.com, and her memoir, Greek Unorthodox: Bande a Part & A Farewell To Ikaros, is available through www.GreeceInPrint.com.)
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