Matt Markey, The A-T outdoor columnist, is a decent writer of hunting and fishing in Ohio. For the most part, his wildlife biology is accurate and his stores of local interest are commendable. However, he frequently inserts unnecessary political commentary into his columns that lean far to the right; there is nothing subtle about his contempt for anything to the left of the John Birth Society.
In the (Oct. 27) edition of the paper, Markey goes far beyond what is acceptable. He makes a tin god out of a second-rate rocker, Ted Nugent whose political views were recently set forth in "Ted, White and Blue: The Nugent Manifesto," a book that reached the New York Times top sales list last week (my guess is it won't last long). I skimmed the book today, but since I am undoubtedly what Markey would refer to (as in his letter) as a pointy-headed, holier-than-thou elitist snob because I read books by real authors, I found the Nugent work inflammatory and written at a fourth-grade level.
Now, in Markey's column, he speaks with reverence about some of Nugent's plans for the country. For example, health-care funding should be refused to anyone who decides to smoke or drink to excess. Well, how about going after the tobacco industry that knowingly turns users into nicotine addicts and sells products globally that kill hundreds of thousands of people every year? Why don't you and Nugent take on the alcohol manufacturers who bear partial responsibility for soaring health-care costs and the creation of misery in the lives of many? Nugent says they chose this lifestyle; do you suppose he ever read anything about the neurobiology of addiction? Somehow I doubt it.
Next, we learn Nugent would improve national security by shooting anyone on sight who is armed (guns, knives, peashooters?) and attempting to cross illegally over our borders. What, no warning? That isn't security, that is murder. Real good idea, Ted.
Back to the booze and tobacco: Nugent and Markey would refuse school lunches to children whose parent or parents drink or smoke. Now that is a real humane attitude; suffer the little children for the sins of their parents. No food, poor nutrition, more chance for disease, greater health care needs, increased costs - yeah, that's a real good idea.
Nugent, Markey tells us, is "terrified that Barack Obama wants us to be more like France." Let's see - France. As I recall, we are a country that is "The Land of the Free" because the French blockaded the British at Yorktown (among other helpful actions in the Revolutionary War). I believe generations of immigrants have been welcomed to our shores by the Statue of Liberty, a gift from France. Come on, guys - any country that gave us champagne can't be all bad. Just because they wouldn't follow our misguided incursion into Iraq, a war based on lies piled on lies, does not make them the subject of your ridicule. But I forgot - anything America does using guns is a good thing.
Your far-right diatribe is an insult to the majority of good Americans, Markey. Fortunately, your views are held by a small majority in our country. Political extremism is completely out of place in an outdoors column. We read you to learn about the wonders of wildlife; give your readers the spirituality of the natural world. What are the white-tails doing during this season? How is the bald eagle population in Seneca County? When and where will the next run of walleye be found? Is the elm borer any closer?
This is what most of us want from an outdoors writer, not a political manifesto.
Please, Markey, stick to writing about hunting and fishing; your punditry is totally out of place.
emeritus professor of biology