Pine Nuts: A free press is hardly the enemy |

Pine Nuts: A free press is hardly the enemy

As a stump-tail columnist I deal in sagebrush humor, malaprops, hyperbole, half-truths, innuendos, double entendres and assonance.

These are tools a journalist will not touch with a bargepole.

No, a journalist will not risk her reputation by reaching into the grab-bag of tools available to the columnist, and few do.

So, the petrified truth remains, a free press is the best friend the United States of America has ever had, and the best friend we ever will have.

Granted, there are rogue bad actors dealing in hate speech who are indeed the enemy of the people, but they are, at least by my count, relatively few in number. Yet the political animus and social enmity that has been growing like topsy reminds me of that parrot, Jessie, who escaped her London home a few days ago, landed on a neighbor’s roof, and refused to be coaxed down. After three days a fireman arrived, up the ladder he went, and beseeched, “I love you, Jessie, please let’s be friends and go down the ladder together.”

What do you suppose Jessie said to that fireman? You’re right, she said what a Republican might say to a Democrat, and what a Democrat might say to a Republican in today’s America, “Bugger-off!”

That’s where we are with our political relationship in America; I call it the Jessie and the Fireman Mentality.

But the cavalry is coming. Last week 60 Fulbright Scholars arrived from around the globe to study at various American institutions of higher learning. These are the best and the brightest from 50 countries including Russia, China and Mexico, so of course I felt honored, as Tahoe’s Mark Twain, to welcome them to America, and thank them in advance for all they are going to do to make our global community safer, more equitable and more congenial.

UNR’s Northern Nevada International Center arranged a grand Tahoe welcome at Valhalla, where this year’s class of Fulbright Scholars competed in a scavenger hunt and took a quick dip in the lake prior to dinner, quick being the operative word.

Fresh out of the lake, and brimming with good energy, these bright young adults dug into an All-American meal, served up by the most capable Big Blue Q of Tahoe. Yum. After dinner the competition began to see which table could build the tallest structure out of marshmallows and toothpicks.

One could not come away from a day’s association with this exemplary group of young scholars without a profound feeling of optimism for the future that these Fulbrighters will help shape. When (if) I get to heaven I want to shake Senator Fulbright’s hand for founding this most successful program to foster cultural relations.

My favorite Fulbrighter quote? “Mr. Twain, can I just hang with you here at Tahoe and take my courses online?”

“No, son, you have to go to school … you have a world to save.”

Learn more about McAvoy Layne at

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