Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Andy Rooney

I have always been a fan of Andy Rooney, and I am saddened that he is leaving 60 Minutes after 30 years on CBS. There were over 1000 appearances where he spoke on a variety of subjects, all of them worth contemplating.

Rooney’s main appeal is the fact that he was a curmudgeon at times, often saying the things the rest of us would like to say if we had the opportunity and the guts to do so. He talked more about the common things of life than he did about the big issues, although he covered those as well. He was at times controversial, raising the ire of different groups, including religious leaders, politicians, gays, and the American Indians. Even when he was mildly caustic, we knew that he was speaking from experience, and not just quoting a sound byte some 21-year-old speechwriter had plucked from Wikipedia.

Rooney’s experience with the real world started with WWII where he flew on one of the first bombing raids over Nazi Germany, and later was one of the first correspondents to visit a Nazi death camp. Having been a pacifist, his experience of seeing these horrors firsthand made him realize that some wars were justified, and this was one of them.

While Rooney sometimes erred in his own outspoken way, he was quick to apologize and get back on course. We need more like Rooney, with a clear vision and a willingness to speak out on the absurd things in society. This Sunday’s appearance on 60 minutes will be his last regular appearance, after 30 years of enlightening and entertaining us. He will be sorely missed as a regular contributor, but will probably appear at intervals to share some new insight. But even if he doesn’t, there are enough of his essays to ponder over for many years to come.

I hope you take well to retirement, Andy Rooney, but don’t hesitate to come back and switch the legs of any of us who are disobedient. The human race is sorely in need of correction.


Milton T. Burton said...

We need more like him, and we need a reincarnation of H.L. Mencken.

Lise Horton said...

Joe, I was just reading the article about Mr. Rooney's retirement in Variety. I have watched him, along with my Mom, for decades. We barely paid attention to the majority of the hour, hunkering down only at 7:50 PM (Eastern). He certainly did have the experience, and the gravitas to speak his mind. And the rare ability to make us laugh even as he made us think. And at 92, I think he's earned the vacation!

Capt MidKnight said...

Very true, Joe,
Somewhere along the road to our current state of Political Correctness, a lot of new “rights” have been discovered which were never there before. One of them, which Andy Rooney and Mencken would have found particularly laughable is the right many people believe they have to stifle or punish any speech that offends them. Maybe it could be stated as: “I have the right not to have my feelings hurt.” Like many other things, this “right” is often selective enforced, depending on whether the subject words, phrases, or labels are favored by the correctness police or not.

Old Andy wasn’t mean or offensive, but he told it like he believed it was, and didn’t really care much whether you agreed with him or not. I think he knew that the truth is often offensive to a lot of folks who would rather not hear it. Part of the reason that Freedom of Speech thing is in the constitution is that the founding fathers believed that a free and public exchange of ideas was the surest way for the truth to eventually come out.

Few of us are as eloquent and plain speaking as Andy. Some of us are thoughtful and polite while others are stupid and rude, but, short of legal slander or libel, we all have the right to be heard without punishment.

Just because you have a right to speak, however, doesn’t mean that anyone has an obligation to take your goofy ideas seriously.