Radio talk show host Neal Boortz, the self-described "high priest of the Church of the Painful Truth," wrote a college commencement speech intended as an ice-cold contrast to the usual cozy graduation platitudes. He has never had the opportunity to deliver this speech at an actual college commencement, but he has posted the speech on his website. In the speech, Boortz deals with the history of American education, liberal feeling vs. conservative thinking, diversity, rights, homelessness and poverty, wealth and envy, and success and sensitivity.
If you'd prefer to watch than to read, here's a video of Boortz giving the speech at a benefit for the Make-A-Wish Foundation benefit on May 20, 2009.
Some key extracts:
I am honored by the invitation to address you on this august occasion. It's about time. Be warned, however, that I am not here to impress you; you'll have enough smoke blown your way today. And you can bet your tassels I'm not here to impress the faculty and administration.
You may not like much of what I have to say, and that's fine. This isn't the first time you're not going to like what someone has to say … your bosses, for instance. Things change today. There will be a lot less pandering to your every whim, and a lot more demands for performance. You will remember what I had to say though. Especially after about 10 years out there in the real world. This, of course, does not apply to those of you who will seek your careers and your fortunes as government employees … or as college professors.
You've heard the old saying that those who can - do. Those who can't - teach. That sounds deliciously insensitive. But there is often raw truth in insensitivity, just as you often find feel-good falsehoods and lies in compassion. Say good-bye to your faculty because now you are getting ready to go out there and do. These folks behind me are going to stay right here and teach.
By the way, just because you are leaving this place with a diploma doesn't mean the learning is over. When an FAA flight examiner handed me my private pilot's license many years ago, he said, 'Here, this is your ticket to learn.' The same can be said for your diploma. Believe me, the learning has just begun....
So here are the first assignments for your initial class in post-graduate reality: Pay attention to the news, read newspapers – as long as we have newspapers -- and listen to the words and phrases that proud Liberals use to promote their causes. Then compare the words of the left to the words and phrases you hear from those evil, heartless, greedy conservatives. From the Left you will hear "I feel." From the Right you will hear "I think." From the Liberals you will hear references to groups --The Blacks, The Poor, The Rich, The Disadvantaged, The Less Fortunate. From the Right you will hear references to individuals. On the Left you hear talk of group rights; on the Right, individual rights.
That about sums it up, really: Liberals feel. Liberals care. They are pack animals whose identity is tied up in group dynamics and the principal of looting. Conservatives and Libertarians think -- and, setting aside the theocracy crowd, their identity is centered on the individual – individual worth and achievement.
Liberals feel that their favored groups, have enforceable rights to the property and services of productive individuals. Conservatives (and Libertarians, myself among them I might add) think that individuals have the right to protect their lives and their property from the plunder of the masses. ...
We also need to address this thing you seem to have about "rights." We have witnessed an obscene explosion of so-called "rights" in the last few decades, usually emanating from college campuses.
You know the mantra: You have the right to a job. The right to a place to live. The right to a living wage. The right to health care. The right to an education. You probably even have your own pet right - the right to a Beemer, for instance, or the right to have someone else provide for that child you plan on downloading in a year or so.
Forget it. Forget those rights! I'll tell you what your rights are! You have a right to live free, and you have a right to whatever wealth you are able to produce with your labor. You'll be disappointed to learn that you have no right to any portion of the life or labor of another....
This "success equals luck" idea the liberals like to push is seen everywhere. One time Democrat presidential candidate Richard Gephardt liked to refer to high-achievers as "people who have won life's lottery." He wanted you to believe they are making the big bucks because they are lucky; all they did was buy the right lottery ticket. What an insult this is to the man or woman who works that 60 hour week to provide for a family.
It's not luck, my friends. It's choice. One of the greatest lessons I ever learned was in a book by Og Mandino, entitled "The Greatest Secret in the World." The lesson? Very simple: "Use wisely your power of choice."
That bum sitting on a heating grate, smelling like a wharf rat? He's there by choice. He is there because of the sum total of the choices he has made in his life. This truism is absolutely the hardest thing for some people to accept, especially those who consider themselves to be victims of something or other - victims of discrimination, bad luck, the system, capitalism, whatever. After all, nobody really wants to accept the blame for his or her position in life. Not when it is so much easier to point and say, "Look! He did this to me!" than it is to look into a mirror and say, "You S.O.B.! You did this to me!"
The key to accepting responsibility for your life is to accept the fact that your choices, every one of them, are leading you inexorably to either success or failure, however you define those terms.