Irrational Exclusions

Questioning the decision to exclude media from a speaking performance by Dinesh D’Souza

By Joe Brenneman

A group of Republicans met in Bigfork on March 10 to listen to a nationally known speaker, Dinesh D’Souza, a man who certainly posses a different view of reality than I do. A Republican committee who brought Mr. D’Souza here made the decision that all media would be excluded except for the Daily Inter Lake. Of course they have the right to do that. The right to define their “territory,” however childish it is, remains a constitutional right.

The rationale given to the other media present was that these Republicans didn’t like how they had been portrayed before and questioned why they would want to give voice to such ill treatment again. Maybe the effect that was being sought by these Republicans was to just stir up trouble and get a bit of media attention. If so, I guess that was achieved; to what possible good I cannot see. If however the effect they hoped for was to teach the other media outlets a lesson by excluding them from this meeting they have seriously flawed thinking.

Many, many years ago my grandmother was home with my mother and her siblings. My grandfather spent the week in the woods at lumber camp. One day the children came running with the terrifying news that their dog was dying and they thought it had been poisoned. Sure enough the dog was thrashing about on the floor, foaming at the mouth and it did appear to be not long for this world. My grandmother had heard once that if you cut off the tip of a poisoned dog’s tail the poison would leak out and the dog would get better. Not having another option available, and with distraught children pleading for some action she grabbed the axe and a block of wood and chopped off the tip of the dog’s tail. The dog, likely terrified of what might be coming next sprang up and tore off across the yard. He lived for several more years until he was caught napping in the driveway when my grandfather came home with his log truck.

Despite the apparent connection, the dog’s survival was unrelated to having its tail chopped off. My veterinary friend assures me that this is definitely not a treatment for poisoning and carries considerable life threatening risk. Rather, my grandmother’s action was the result of desperation and flawed thinking.

Similarly, excluding some members of the press will not discourage them from gathering the facts and reporting accurately. Rational analysis makes such thinking absurd. My grandmother, who acted out of fear and desperation, performed an act that had no rational basis. Such flawed thinking is representative of our current legislators and their electors.

Joe Brenneman is a rancher, farmer and former Flathead County commissioner.

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