Ed Driscoll

JAMES LILEKS ON JOURNALISTS' UNIONS:Humor

JAMES LILEKS ON JOURNALISTS’ UNIONS:

Humor is irrelevant when the situation is dire. And it’s always dire. It’s the sort of constant direness you find in the mind of someone who drives a 10-year old Volvo with bumperstickers that say “If you want peace, work for justice” on the left side and “If you want justice, work for peace” on the right, with a faded sticker in between from a 5,000 watt progressive radio station that features New Sounds in Congolese Drumming every Sunday night before signing off with an Emma Goodman quotation.

This isn’t to say I don’t like unions – no. When management shivved me a few years back over an utterly trivial and preposterous issue, the union stood by my side and helped me out. I pay my dues without complaint, I applaud their actions on the workers’ behalf. But I don’t get all jangly inside when I consider that I belong to a UNION!, because I do not feel I am the spiritual inheritor of some grimy-handed laborer who just wants to put bread on his family’s table, and is repaid for his work with the boot of a Pinkerton operative in his ribs. But honest to God, so much of the union rhetoric I get in the mail seems to think that Woody Guthrie will soon descend from the clouds with his fascist-killin’ geetar and start singing against the Greatest Injustice of Our Era, namely, the proposed 17% interest in the dental co-pay.

Around 1999 or 2000, I belonged for a year to the National Writers’ Union. A friend recommended it for the leads, and I seem to recall getting an assignment or two out of it. (Incidentally, before, during and while I was a member of the NWU, the vast majority of assignments I’ve gotten by mailing–up until recently, snail-mailing–cold query letters, and lots of them. There’s no substitute for hard work and aggressive marketing). But the day the NWU sent out an email celebrating “Native Americans’ Day” on Columbus Day, the first of an endless series of the type of shrill leftist agitprop that Lileks derides in his “Bleat” today, I decided I’d simply quietly let my membership expire, and never renew.