One Last Reason I Didn't Write to the Times

April 29, 2012

If all has gone according to plan, I’m headed to Verona today in order to catch my flight back home after attending a project meeting on animal biotechnology and visiting a Green Mountain study abroad group in Merano. I write in this curiously oblique way because I’m using the WordPress scheduling feature to post a Thornapple blog automatically while I’m in Europe. This saves me having to lug my computer around, but it also means that I have to write these blogs ahead of time.

Which explains why I’m still thinking about all the reasons I didn’t send in an entry to the New York Times essay contest on the ethics of eating meat.

And truth be told, the real reason may just be that I shy away from being judged by the New York Times. Sure, I know that if I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere, but I woke up in the city that doesn’t sleep (or close to it) when I was in graduate school. There may be something to my friend Greg Moses’ idea that pounding the sidewalks of New York is important for catching a certain rhythm and spirit that has always permeated the best philosophical writing in America, but even if that is so, there is no reason why people pounding those sidewalks need to read about it as they gulp coffee regular with one hand and juggle The Times with the other.

There was a time in our history when Americans elected Presidents who went to school in San Marcos, TX or Eureka, IL. And in between those Presidents we had graduates of Whittier College, the U.S. Naval Academy and some school down state (even though that guy wasn’t elected), too. Given the way our next election is shaping up, it will be at least 2035 before anyone teaches a class of college freshmen who can remember a President who wasn’t educated at Harvard or Yale. It is very unlikely that I will ever see that day again personally, so it’s no wonder that everybody who’s anybody expects me to publish in The New York Times.

Fact is, I rather like the obscurity of the Thornapple Blog. I like the fact that I can be sarcastic without having to worry (too much) that the Mackinac Center is going to find out about me and then try and get Rick Snyder down my neck for criticizing Republicans. I like being able to mount arguments that are so convoluted they border on being loony, and I like being able to slop back and forth across that border now again, too.

And frankly, I like the fact that I’m giving it away to anyone who takes the trouble to find it.

Paul B. Thompson is the W.K. Kellogg Professor of Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics at Michigan State University

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