The fallout over the Levi Johnston, ASRC story tells us a lot about what has become of our culture.
Johnston, the father of Gov. Sarah Palin's grandchild, quit his ASRC apprenticeship after I wrote a column last weekend detailing how the 18-year-old did not have a high school diploma, as the coveted program requires.
I questioned whether ASRC might have admitted Johnston ahead of others despite his not meeting the necessary requirements because of his association with Palin. After the column ran, the governor denied she had anything to do with it. That may be true but we will probably never know if ASRC intentionally admitted the unqualified Johnston because of his close ties to the most powerful politician in Alaska even if Palin knew nothing of it.
I thought investigating Johnston's suspicious entry into the ASRC program was a legitimate use of my column. Then the e-mails starting coming in by the truckload.
Jack Butler wrote: "Give the Palins a break, Levi is only trying to man up and be a man, take some of his actions and use them for yourself, maybe you could get lucky and knock up one of your hookers or boyfriends."
Another wrote: "Nice job bringing down that Levi Johnston kid. Scumbags like you deserve to go to hell if your not already there. F@#$ you and all the scumbags like you."
The response was similar on the Anchorage Daily News Web site. One wrote: "Way to go, Fagan! Maybe you can kick a puppy on your way home tonight."
I guess it is true what they say: Hell hath no fury like a Palinbot scorned.
I'll have to admit I didn't anticipate this reaction. I thought most would want a young man like Johnston to learn the valuable lesson of playing by the rules and earning the privilege of entering a sought-after program like the ASRC apprenticeship. You know, the old school idea that anything worth anything is worth earning.
And remember Johnston's admission excludes someone who worked hard enough to earn his or her diploma.
Some did see it my way. One ADN commentator wrote: "All the Palins and Johnstons appear to be teaching their kids is it's not what you know, it's who you know."
Another wrote: "Levi getting that job was wrong because he did not meet the qualifications. I bet there was a waiting list, (ASRC refuses to say if there was a waiting list) and all the names didn't matter because 'Sarah Palin' was his qualification or even his diploma."
Another Daily News commentator put it this way: "It sounds like Levi has been getting some consistently poor advice and very little wisdom from those he looks up to. Dropping out of school was stupid -- but he should be singularly focused on solving that deficiency. If you need some advise, the first piece I offer is to change your mentors -- they've been failing you miserably."
This commentator wouldn't like the message Palin is sending her potential son-in-law. Palin said my column "threatens to destroy a young man's opportunity for work."
But Johnston can still get into the ASRC electrical apprentice program. He just has to pass his GED or earn a diploma like the rest of the applicants. Does the governor believe unless Johnston gets into a program he has not earned his way into, his opportunity for work has been destroyed?
Johnston's father seems to think Levi deserves to remain in the ASRC program. Addressing the media he said: "You guys are watching him so tightly? He has to do everything by the book now."
An ADN commentator didn't like that one bit saying: "Oh for heaven's sake, Finish school, get a job. Doing it by the book should be required of us all. This is life, get used to it."
Is there anyone in this young 18-year-old's circle explaining the concept of earning something of value? His mother faces drug-dealing charges, his father complains about his son having to "do it by the book" and the governor sends him the message, the only way to get ahead is to skirt the rules.
Being a young father, Levi has some tough challenges ahead.