Thursday, March 8, 2012

Comedy Central anchor 'greatest public intellectual'

Fake newsanchor Jon Stewart is "our greatest public intellectual," according to a Loyola bioethicist in an article in the American Journal of Bioethics. "This is no joke."

Kayhan Parsi, an associate professor in the Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, writes that Stewart (shown above with another articulate pop culture figure, Bruce Springsteen, from an interview in an upcoming issue of Rolling Stone magazine) "has emerged as our voice of sanity in a sea of insanity in a new media age with its ephemeral nature and lack of substance."

A public intellectual is seriously committed to ideas and discourse, Parsi explains. He or she may be an academic, although journalists, policymakers and even politicians can play that role.

"In an era with a great amount of strident self-righteousness, Stewart cuts through the absurdities of what passes for political discourse," Parsi writes. "Although bioethics topics do not figure prominently in the Stewart oeuvre of satire ... the issues that are part and parcel of bioethics (say, health care reform) have merited a significant amount of attention."