ONE OF THE PROUDEST moments in my

Daily News

career came in the form of simple thank-you notes. It had been announced that I was leaving the paper, called by the siren song of Newark, N.J.

The notes were from people in the pro-life movement, activists we had met with frequently as an editorial board and who had written many an oped opinion column challenging our editorial position, which was far from the one they would have preferred. In fact, they believed it to be morally wrong.

Nonetheless, we built a mutually beneficial relationship and, I believe, a mutual respect. Nobody changed his or her mind, but anti-abortion thoughts appeared in the paper beside ours. The readers got a full range of opinion.

That was 16 years ago, though. Opinions and ideologies seem to have hardened since then and mutual respect seems like a historical concept.

That is why I'm delighted that the Daily News runs columns that I would agree with every other blue moon. I'm a particular fan of Christine Flowers, whom letter-writer Gloria C. Endres described as writing from "the perspective of a religious conservative." That seems about right to this non-conservative, not especially religious reader.

Her politics are nowhere near mine. For instance, her support of things like "intelligent design," the deliberate denial of science in favor of rigid biblical literalism, gives me the heebie-jeebies. But her voice is a voice that resonates with many people and it belongs in the newspaper.

Sometimes, it really annoys me. Her column about Tim Tebow in SportsWeek unfairly characterizes those of us who are tired after many years of listening to jocks who think God is wasting his or her time worrying about whether the Denver Broncos win on a given Sunday. You don't have to be a "hipster" to find these self-anointed holy men annoying.

In fact, there are biblical literalists who might find preaching quarterbacks to be violating one of Christ's own precepts in Matthew 6:6: "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." You don't have to "hate sincerity," in other words, to wish that Tebow would shut up.

My sympathies grow when more rigid readers take exception to her deviating from current rigidity, as in her criticism of the deliberate provocations of the execrable Ann Coulter. Letter-writer Stuart Caesar was particularly exercised: "There's nothing wrong with anything that Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann or Ann Coulter has said. All of these women are conservatives and therefore speak the truth." This only demonstrates that he should get out more. Regardless of label, many people of both genders are full of it.

THERESA CONROY, one of my favorite Daily News alumnae, noticed a howler in the paper a couple of weeks ago:

"OK, I tried to ignore this but I can't. A story in the Friday, Dec. 2 DN, about a chiropractor accused of sexually assaulting clients by digital penetration, bore the headline, 'Gutter Fingers.' Could it get more juvenile, offensive or gross than that? What the hell? (Or, should I borrow from the DN weekly hed - the terminally pre-pubescent, 'WTF?') What happened to the days when we were clever, subtle, cool and funny with our headlines? It's also not clever. They are the headline equivalents of cheap, 12-year-old boy fart jokes."

Subtle, cool and funny are hard to do. We fell way short on this one.

Richard Aregood is the Charles R. Johnson Professor of Journalism at the University of North Dakota. Email him at

yodailynews@gmail.com.