Thursday, March 1, 2012

Loyola Bioethicist Calls Jon Stewart 'Our Greatest Public Intellectual'

MAYWOOD, Ill. -- In an article in the American Journal of Bioethics, a Loyola bioethicist is calling political satirist Jon Stewart "our greatest public intellectual. This is no joke."

Kayhan Parsi, JD, PhD, writes that Stewart "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." Parsi is an associate professor in the Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics & Health Policy of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

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

Parsi notes that Stewart invites a variety of writers, artists and intellectuals to discuss their work on "The Daily Show," which he hosts on Comedy Central. In doing so, Stewart has taken on the mantle of a public intellectual himself.

"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."

Stewart and his colleague Stephen Colbert "have created a space where serious writers can discuss their works in front of a fairly large audience."

Parsi concludes: "Today, the effective public intellectual has to be less the pedant and more the artful catalyst for independent thought. Perhaps unwittingly or even unknowingly, Stewart has taken on this role with relish and gusto. Although neither a bioethicist nor an academic, Stewart has taken on the mantle of our greatest public intellectual."

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), located on a 61-acre campus in Maywood, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital (GMH), on a 36-acre campus in Melrose Park, and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. At the heart of LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital that houses the Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, a burn center, a children's hospital, Loyola Outpatient Center, and Loyola Oral Health Center. The campus also is home to Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. The GMH campus includes a 254-licensed-bed community hospital, a Professional Office Building with 150 private practice clinics, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation. It serves people and communities in 22 states from coast to coast with 93 hospitals, and 120 continuing care locations — including home care, hospice, PACE and senior living facilities — that provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually.