"The fact is if you can read, you can walk into a job later on. If you don't, then you've got, the Army, Iraq, I don't know, something like that. It's not as bright."
Now literacy is critically important and I applaud efforts to get people to read. But it’s the example he uses that is offensive. He assumes that people who go into the military do so because they have no other choices and because they are illiterate. This is clearly not true.
If you want to find illiterates, visit the prisons. Interview single moms in the ghetto. Check the hamburger flippers at the fast food joints.
Rather than apologizing, he struck back.
That a right-wing-blog would impugn my patriotism because I said children should learn to read, and could get better jobs by doing so, is beneath contempt. Noel Sheppard says, “Nice sentiment when the nation is at war, Stephen.” I guess he feels ignorance and illiteracy are OK when the country needs cannon-fodder. I guess he also feels that the war in Iraq has nationwide approval. Well, it doesn’t have mine. It is a waste of national resources. . . and that includes the youth and blood of the 4,000 American troops who have lost their lives there and for the tens of thousands who have been wounded. I live in a national guard town, and I support our troops, but I don’t support either the war or educational policies that limit the options of young men and women to any one career—military or otherwise. If you agree, find Sheppard on the internet, and send him an email:
“Hi, Noel—Stephen King says to shut up and I agree.”
There are so many things wrong with this response that it blares a cluelessness that is staggering.
King refers to the troops as “cannon fodder.”
He then claims to live in a “National guard town.” What in the world is that? That people in his town join the National Guard? That includes virtually every town in the country.
“I support the troops?” Yeah, he supports the troops by implying they are illiterate dead-enders who had no other options and are used by their country as cannon fodder.
You don’t have to agree with the war, or anything else, to have a civil discussion. But if you are a hack writer whose claim to fame and fortune is creeping people out, I would suggest that you begin by not denigrating the people who put their lives on the line to protect your worthless hide.
And yes, I question his patriotism.