This Just In: The Absurdity of the News

Robert Reilly takes a look at the latest news and sees absurdities all around us.

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[Editor's Note: Years ago Robert Reilly wrote a semi-regular column in Crisis Magazine titled "This Just In." We are pleased to announce that Mr. Reilly has decided to revive this column here at Crisis.]

I hate the news but am invariably drawn toward it for professional reasons. I alleviate the angst by enjoying the absurdity of so much of it.

For instance, within the last week, we learned that more student debt will be “canceled” by the Biden administration. It’s only another $6 billion for those who attended the Art Institutes, a system of for-profit colleges. The administration thinks that the schools lured students with “pervasive” lies. I think modern art is, in large part, lying (about the true, the good, and the beautiful), but isn’t that taught in nonprofit art institutes, as well?

In fact, isn’t the Biden administration lying when it claims that student debt will be “canceled” when, in fact, it is only being transferred to others—now a total of a whopping $160 billion? I keep wondering why my wife and I worked to pay for the college education of our four children. I have to kick myself for not telling the kids to register as Democrats and take out college loans. Now that the $160 billion debt has been transferred to taxpayers, my wife and I get to pay for other people’s children’s college educations.

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Speaking of free stuff, the IRS and Sen. Elizabeth Warren have crowed about the IRS’s provision of “free” tax preparation. They claim it has been a major success. But who at the IRS undertakes these “free” tax return preparations? Are they paid? And if so, by whom? Oh, they happen to be government workers who receive their full salaries by doing “free” stuff for others. Chalk up another one for the American taxpayer.

I happened to look at an obituary for a New York novelist and filmmaker, of whom I had never heard. Nonetheless, his past included some curious items. After graduating from Columbia University in 1970, Paul Auster tried out several odd jobs, one of which was writing pornography. He gave that up because, he explained, “I ran out of synonyms.” 

I’m for having a smaller dictionary so there are even fewer synonyms, thus encouraging other writers to give up all the sooner on pornography, which word derives from the Greek πορνογράφος – which means porni (“prostitute”) and graphein (“to write”). So, it’s writing by or about prostitutes. Oh, I forgot. Those are now called sex workers, and they are often invited to our fine universities to explain their “profession.”

I was so glad to read that the Methodist Church has now joined the far reaches of the sexual frontier by voting to end the ban on ordaining “gay” clergy. There is so much immorality to rationalize that keeping the ban simply didn’t make sense. This means that “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” may now traipse about the altar, if there is one, or in the pulpit. I can’t wait to hear the sermons on the Seventh Commandment rationalizing the practice of sodomy.

A news report said that the six-week abortion ban now in place in Florida, along with the one in Georgia, which was passed in 2022, is “creating additional regionwide anxieties in the South, where abortion access has narrowed dramatically…” You know what this could mean? A woman might have to give birth to the child she engendered! 

A 33-year-old woman, who was already a single mother to four children, discovered that she was pregnant past the six-week cut off. Her so-called friends and family “pushed her to travel to a clinic out-of-state.” The abortion laws helped her decide to keep the pregnancy. After her infant son was born, she said, “I’m so thankful I did not go with Option A,” which was to kill the child. I wonder if her friends and family helped her to celebrate. Let’s just say that it was a bad day for Planned Parenthood.

It appears that the Church of England is currently considering a call for it to apologize for the way earlier generations of missionaries sought to “destroy diverse African traditional religious belief systems.” That will require several yards of mea culpas

For instance, a Spanish nurse, who had been a colleague of my Spanish mother-in-law, had gone down to Africa to help. However, when she arrived in the village she was to serve, she came upon the funeral bier of the tribal chieftain who had just died. As a sign of high honor, the chief’s bier was decorated around its edges with the recently lopped off heads of infants from the village. Well, she certainly didn’t want to destroy a “diverse African traditional religious belief system,” so she didn’t even bother to unpack and screamed almost the whole way back to Spain.

I am aware of another instance in which a tribal chieftain’s power rested on the Chevrolet convertible that he would drive about the village. One sorry day, the Chevrolet stalled and wouldn’t start again. The disappointed villagers took out their frustration by slaughtering the village chief, who, according to them, had lost his “juju.”

Another deeply held belief that demonstrates Africa’s diversity is that, in traditional tribal life, women are considered slaves to their husbands. How unfair it would be to undermine this practice with a colonial imposition of foreign beliefs from the West!

Also, there is no such thing as discrimination or snide remarks for being “overweight” in these diverse belief systems. In fact, possessing a generous helping of avoirdupois is a sign of wealth and favor. I suggest that, after we have finished feeding the Palestinians, we tow the dock we have built down to Africa and start unloading food there, so that the avoirdupois can be increased.

Stay tuned for more news analysis.


  • Robert R. Reilly

    Robert R. Reilly has written for many publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, The American Spectator, and National Review, and is the author or contributing author of over 20 books. His most recent book is America on Trial: A Defense of the Founding (Ignatius Press).

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