Opinion » Bill Cope

The Kill Joy

Otter's inferior past is Idaho's inferior future


What kind of people never watch PBS?

You're thinking: "Cope's about to go off another deep end here and wallow in a foul sump of over-generalization."

Not true! Yes, I am about to wallow in a sump of generalization, but it is not over-generalization (or even mildly exaggerated generalization) as it is clear to anyone with the eyes to see and the brains to interpret that a great many people are satisfied--dare I say enthused--about being lumped together like poorly mashed potatoes with others who share their passions. (Bronco Nation ... need I say more?)

Further, there is evidence aplenty that Americans are as divided in matters of culture and taste and intellectual curiosity as they are in their politics. Therefore, when I start with a question like, "What kind of people never watch PBS?" I am confident the limb I will soon shinny out on will hold the weight of my argument. So then ... on to what kind of people never watch PBS:

People who have never missed a lap of the Daytona 500. Honestly, would it come as a surprise to learn that anyone entertained by watching noisy, garishly painted cars run around in circles has never seen a Jane Austen or Dickens tale as told on Masterpiece? Or the pro wrestling crowd: would you, skeptical reader, expect to find a bleacher of Steve Austin fans at an episode of Great Performances?

Global warming deniers and disavowers of evolution, I do not see them tuning in to Nova, Nature or anything with Alan Alda in it, do you? Far too much demonstrable science for their delicate minds. And home schoolers ... what use would home schoolers have with Sesame Street and Reading Rainbow when there's a Bible in the house?

Heavy drinkers, meth addicts, wild-eyed Libertarians and biker gangs--I bet good money they don't watch Globe Trekker or Gwen Ifill's show. And I double that if any of them could tell Bill Moyers apart from the last guy they slugged in a bar.

Rodeo people. I question whether anyone who enjoys seeing a doggie roped or a bull rode has any use for anything as complicated as Jane Tennison solving a murder on Mystery or a Frontline expose of the credit card racket.

Students who do poorly in school, self-satisfied ideologues who already believe they have all the answers, an alarming portion of the Idaho Legislature, and monster truck enthusiasts ... can we expect them to sit through a Ken Burns' epic documentary? I mean, really. That would take a measurable attention span, yes? Oh, and our governor. According to Lori Otter, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter never watches PBS, either.

"There you go again, Cope. You with your snooty, scornful elitism!"

No, that's not true either. Not entirely. I mean, I didn't set out to be an elitist. In the beginning, I didn't once think my proclivities were more polished than ... oh, let's say ... Otter's. And to this day, I'm still a scrubby Idaho farm boy at heart, albeit with an abiding respect and love for what great talents and great minds have bequeathed our humble species.

The way I see it, I stayed the same, while huge slabs of the American demographic sunk like wet dung around me. Nope, I'm no elitist. And I can only be considered one when seen in perspective with the--(new word!)--inferiorists who toil so diligently to drag America down to their depths.

Write that down--"inferiorists"--and feel free to use it. Other than the more widely recognized terms--hillbilly, yahoo, knuckle-dragger, tea-bagger--what better to call those who so willfully avoid the elevated accomplishments that for many of us define the finest in human endeavor.

I consider the Public Broadcasting System one of those elevated accomplishments. Here we have an effort, made by a generous and responsive side of government, to bring to the citizenry the finest in a multitude of human endeavors--art, science, education, civil discourse, travel--summed up: our common heritage. PBS is government at its best, and I am more than happy to have my taxes used for such a blessing.

Sadly, our doggie-choking governor's approach to leadership amounts to, "If it brings joy to people, government has no business doing it." We are in hard times, truly--compliments of the economic policies of another inferiorist who relished dressing up like a cowboy--and we might understand Otter's need to pare funding across the spectrum, including that minuscule portion of the state budget that helps support Idaho Public Television.

Yet Butch is not content to make IdahoPTV suffer temporarily along with every other facet of the state's business only until the economy gets healthy. He's not paring them back; he's rubbing them out.

"You lie, Cope! Otter only wants IdahoPTV to carry its own weight. If you snotty snobs want it, you snotty snobs should pay for it. Why should my tax dollars go to anything that makes you happy?"

Same reason my tax dollars go to things that make you happy, Bubba. Why should I be paying for that bridge you take to work every morning? Or that school your kid goes to? Or that buffoon you send to the Legislature every winter? Because that's what civilized people do for one another, that's why. And it's not my fault if you don't have whatever it takes to appreciate something beyond your own meager world.

Frankly, that's the most disgusting aspect to this matter of Otter and IdahoPTV. He never watches, so he's blissfully ignorant about what he'll be stealing from Idahoans.