Thursday, July 30, 2009

Whose Ox Is Being Gored or Bored

How we react and respond to broadcast and published news reports has a lot to do with us, and not necessarily with what the story is about or how it's presented (that said, you can see HUGE differences in the treatment of the same story when channel dropping between CNN and Fox). And while your mileage may vary, your perception of 'honest and fair' often has a lot more to do with you rather than with the writer or reporter.

On the national stage, the current health care debate (which seems to be more of a shouting match than a debate, or is that just me?) is driven in no small part by how much health insurance each of us has, or doesn't have. The impetus for 'reform' isn't motivated, necessarily, by a desire to make health care more affordable and/or accessible for people who already have it, but for people who do not.

If you are one of the (about) forty-seven million with no coverage, your interest and desires are in all likelihood very different from someone who has health insurance who, in turn, may feel very differently both from you and from someone who is unhappy at the cost or coverage he/she currently has.

Another example, this time at the state level. In Connecticut, the Governor (a Republican) and the State Legislature (Democratic super-majority in both houses) are still poles apart on a budget for a fiscal year that began a month ago. Each side has reached the inevitable conclusion that the other side is awful, uncaring and quite possibly eats bugs. Eventually they will come to a meeting of the minds somewhere between the Governor's 'principled' position and the 'citizen-driven concerns' of the Democrats. This happens all the time--doesn't make it a lot of fun just because it's routine, and there is something about familiarity that does breed contempt, I guess.

At the inter-personal relationship level, the song remains the same. If your significant other, business partner, golf buddy or employer were only as reasonable as you and I, they would do what we want, because when we say 'be reasonable' we mean 'do it my way.' In theory the purpose of language is to better define differences and distinctions but everyday and every way we get better and better at using language to obscure and diffuse. Sometimes less words can equal more meaning, ask Alice.
-bill kenny

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