Perspective

Han Solo in Carbonite
Carbon Freezing now required by law to be covered by your insurance company.

I met up with Frylock this evening, and had a great time talking about everything: from people not reading entire articles and yet still reacting based on headlines, to the relative quality of Star Trek shows (we both agree that Voyager is the worst).

And of course, since he’s more learned on the subject of law than I, I asked him some pointed questions about today’s Supreme Court ruling on the ACA.

Whether or not he or I agree with the Court or not, it was a level–headed and rational conversation trying to take in all of the angles we could consider. It’s amazing when you slow down and discuss things, when you make an effort to understand arguments that would help you understand impact and import of things, how you realize how much relative noise there is.

The way people have behaved, you’d think it’s the first contentious decision the Court has made in history. This is especially ridiculous when you consider the Supreme Court was formed in order to make contentious decisions.

Not even discussing Wolf Blitzer’s fumbling of the announcement in his attempt to be the first to get an intelligible sound on the airwaves about the ruling, and instead looking at Twitter and Facebook, suddenly everyone is a Constitutional Scholar. This is especially frustrating when their learned opinion boils down to one essential point.

The opinions posted across social networks everywhere are reflective, mostly, as to whether or not they like and agree with the current President about “his” bill (a whole other facet of our conversation covered this semi–fallacy). They don’t even particularly care about precedent, scope or impact. Just whether “their side” won. I have one old friend on Facebook who has posted gloating update after gloating update because of that.

What’s happened to us? Does he really want to reduce historic decisions from the high court into sports competitions? Is his goal to bite his thumb at those who disagree, until the Sheriff has to step in to separate the families again?

It returned me to a thought I had as I took my brief lunch walk today, one that makes me realize I’m a different kesseljunkie than I was a few years ago. For as much as I might passionately agree or disagree with something like this, to borrow a sentiment from Jules, there ain’t a G-ddamn thing I can do about it.

So people will gloat on Facebook, or they will rage on Twitter or they’ll fill airtime on their 24 hour networks to argue simplified points. But not one person will really listen. They’ll jerk their leg and raise their voice when they hear their proper cue to roar or hiss. [edit: stitched two paragraphs back together for clarity]

Small wonder I choose to remain conspicuously silent about some things. Because as a wise man once said,

 

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16 thoughts on “Perspective

  1. Perspective? WTF?! Why is perspective so important? Or, if you’re saying it isn’t, why isn’t it? You have no idea what you’re talking about, moron.

    1. What I’m saying is that if the perspective is at the cross-inverse of the electorate, you’re going to end up with a parallax effect of the intensification beams that ends up going out into space and building enough tachyon backlash to destroy Ceti Alpha VI in the first place.

  2. How do you know they’re not listening, and maybe they’ve already considered everything you have – and more, then whittled down their opinions down to “simplified points”.

      1. You know, I’ve read this entry three times now, and while I do commend you on choosing your words carefully, i can’t help but to hear a tone of “people who disagree with me simply haven’t thought things through as much as I have, or else they’d obviously agree with me.” Which I know isn’t really your point. Because otherwise you wouldn’t have written that post about arrogance. 🙂

        All of this said, I do know people on both sides of this debate who have behaved like absolute buttheads on social media lately. I think that we all do. It’s a pretty great commentary on a lot of things: how divided we’ve become politically, how short our attention spans have become, and how completely flawed the mediums of FB and Twitter are for real discourse. I mean, if you’re going to keep using these outlets as the inspirations for your blog posts, I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll always have the opportunity to form the more complete rebuttal.

        1. Ive gone back and re-read it, and I can’t help but think that you read a tone into it based on either experiences in old arguments/discussions from years past or a presumption on what I think about the ruling. The ruling, in fact, is sort of secondary to what I’m discussing here.

          The “simplified points” comment is laid in the context of cable news networks. It seems to me that both you and The Korean may have focused on that word choice and extrapolated something more from it.

          The people I follow on Twitter at least linked to articles and op-eds arguing for good/bad. The people on my FB news feed (an admittedly small sample size) jibber-jabbered based on political stripe. One guy I’ve known since I was 12 is my true shining example of how much of an as**ole people can be with this stuff, and is honestly becoming so insufferable I debate cutting ties completely.

          1. Actually, you may be jumping to a conclusion that I’m jumping to a conclusion. Easy enough to happen….

            While I suppose that I do presume to know what your opinion is about the ruling, that is not at all what i find offensive. (I’ve got strong opinions about the policy more so than the ruling, just because that’s where my greater expertise lies, and they may surprise you.)

            To me, it is more troubling for you to assume that people haven’t critically thought through their opinions, which I thought came across very clearly in your post. The specific statement that got under my skin was, “They don’t even particularly care about precedent, scope or impact.” While I do appreciate that this sentence was positioned in the graf in such a way that it subtly implicated people on both sides, there is something about the choice of words that may expose a bias.

            All too often, when we even bother to ask people why they feel a certain way or support a certain viewpoint, the questions are so frequently posed in the spirit of Socratic dialog — gotcha moments, as I think someone once said — rather than a desire to better understand someone with a different viewpoint or different priorities. It is too easy to assume based on a handful of Fb trolls that support one way or the other is just a knee jerk reaction to their political allegiance. Otherwise, the independent vote wouldn’t be so coveted.

          2. “While I do appreciate that this sentence was positioned in the graf in such a way that it subtly implicated people on both sides” I was being polite, not trying for subtle.

            You wrote in this response, “To me, it is more troubling for you to assume that people haven’t critically thought through their opinions, which I thought came across very clearly in your post.”

            The troubling part for me about that is you’re making a presumption as opposed to giving me the benefit of the doubt or asking me to clarify, instead opting to think that I’m haughtily condemning everyone in the world as not being as thoughtful as me. Come on, man. That’s hurtful.

            What I thought was obvious, was outlined in this part: “The way people have behaved, you’d think it’s the first contentious decision the Court has made in history. This is especially ridiculous when you consider the Supreme Court was formed in order to make contentious decisions.”

            I specifically targeted social media and cable news networks. You don’t disagree with that point in your responses.

            So to clarify:
            I am only now starting to see posts that aren’t backward reasoning to support a previously-drawn opinion (support/dislike of the law itself) instead of forming one organically about the substance of the ruling. At the time I wrote this post, it was virtually impossible for people to have digested everything completely; they reacted first and then read up on it – which supports the point I had in this post of

            “It’s amazing when you slow down and discuss things, when you make an effort to understand arguments that would help you understand impact and import of things, how you realize how much relative noise there is.”

          3. You know what? I don’t know who you follow on Twitter or on FB. If you couldn’t find decent analysis both pro and con by the end of the day, it may be possible that you’re putting too much stock into the opinions of the wrong people. In retrospect, that’s probably where my response should have started and ended. Because God knows I have to ignore or “grain of salt” enough people on my own FB and Twitter accounts or else I become exasperated as well. (Two old friends, in particular, have become utterly hateful caricatures of their opposing political beliefs, and it makes me sad and embarrassed for them. All of this is to say that I do understand the frustration of high emotions and closed ears among your friends).

            Honestly, I did heard a certain tone of generalization in your post. Did I find it haughty? Yes, I did. That’s God’s honest truth. To me, it sounded like an example of “I discussed it, other people didn’t. They suck and are ignorant. I am enlightened. What is happening to this world?” It is not a politician’s non-apology when I tell you that I’m sorry that hurts you. Should I have asked you to clarify or given you the benefit of the doubt? I’ll have to think about that. My gut says no, but perhaps as my fiend you deserve better. (Even if you’re totally annoying and you c-blocked me that one time 15 years ago that I’m still kind of angry about.)

            I guess we can needlessly go tit for tat, but every time we do that I end up feeling bad. I sure wish you hadn’t isolated and rebutted my own text in your response without actually acknowledging your text that I’d isolated in mine (follow any of that? 🙂 ), as it was a specific example of something that made me feel the way I did.

            Personally, I found the day fascinating. But then again, I didn’t look for my answers on Facebook, and the only folks I actually listened to on Twitter were the two dozen or so health policy reporters, pundits and researchers I had to follow in my last job. Maybe this is where our disconnect lies. CNN and FOX sure stumbled out of the gate – as did a health policy reporter I foolishly retweeted instantaneously — but solid content was out there by mid-afternoon.

            The voice of that last graf is kind of condescending, and I’ve tried to re-write it about four times. I’m going to let it be, because the intent was not to be hurtful. So dont be hurt by it. Still love ya either way.

            Personally, I wish anyone at all cared enough about my opinion to start a fight with me on my blog.

          4. I’m far from unique in musing that there’s a lot of chatter out there, and it screws everything up. Were I the only person saying it, I’d see where you’re coming from better. The Korean likes to start contrarian fights for the sake of them, hence why I was able to contextualize his response the way I did with the gag link. I could have written a post about how fuzzy cats are and he’d say I was being arrogantly dismissive of dogs.

            I suppose another difference is that I was truly sitting on the sidelines watching. If this came across as “I discussed it, other people didn’t. They suck and are ignorant. I am enlightened. What is happening to this world?” then I failed to communicate my thoughts properly. The post was built on the fact that there was a veritable tidal wave of “reaction before analysis” regardless of outlet and that’s what I was trying to address – and no small part why for the first 20 minutes there was a sense of “WTF?” as the ruling came out and people were trying to make sense of it. After the initial burst I ‘walked away’ and didn’t come back to it. Honestly. The only other thought I gave to it before sitting down to discuss the ruling at dinner was to take my lunchtime walk and bemusedly note that the world hadn’t exploded like it was supposedly going to.

            I think adding to your reaction about my post was that I split the thought about the cable news networks into two paragraphs for readability, which may relay a thought that I was broadening the thought to the world at large. I’m editing that down in a moment to read as one paragraph as it’s specifically targeted at the cable news shows, the ones where if I watch them for more than five minutes I start to get nauseous.

    1. That’s certainly a theoretical possibility, but when someone says something that’s grossly incorrect (factually or legally), lectures as if their coming from a position of intellectual superiority, and calls you ignorant for disagreeing with them, it’s clear who the ignoramus is. It’s not enough to be right; you must be right for the right reasons, and you also need to accept that sometimes there isn’t an objectively correct answer.

  3. I think the reaction on Facebook is precisely why I constantly say “This is why we can’t have nice things”. People don’t understand what they are talking about, yet they want to gloat their side won. You know what, in all actuality, MY Side won; because, yesterday, news that is way more important right now to me is, it has been CONFIRMED the three-breasted prostitute will be in the Total Recall remake. Why is no one gloating about THAT victory. The movie is going to be terrible, but a three breasted prostitute will make it better. Small victories count too.

  4. @TonyBabyDC I’m reluctant to respond to you because I don’t know you (a statement in and of itself) and because I don’t know how seriously to take your back-and-forth with KesselJunkie. Clearly, you two are being serious, but I’m not sure where the seriousness stops and the joking begins. In any case, I want to respond to two statements you made:

    “To me, it is more troubling for you to assume that people haven’t critically thought through their opinions”

    This makes me question whether you’ve ever met a fellow human being. 🙂 As I will discuss in my next blog post over on rbodine.wordpress.com, this is the status quo. It’s how we’re built, and I don’t think it takes a PhD in Psychology to see that (which is good, because I don’t, though I reference one). Social media just makes our lunacy more visible and safe due to online anonymity. Moreover, because of this, we don’t bother to think through or educate ourselves on issues. Case and point:

    “and the only folks I actually listened to on Twitter were the two dozen or so health policy reporters, pundits and researchers I had to follow in my last job.”

    I’m assuming that what you meant by this statement is that, with respect to the Affordable Care Act, you look to a few people you know and trust to be objective and informed on the ACA for their opinions on it. There are plenty of people who place their faith in the wrong people (e.g., Paul Begalia), but it seems like you might have your faith placed in the right people. However, we’re talking about the Supreme Court decision, not the ACA itself. I just want to make sure you realize that those people you reference are (as far as I can tell) the wrong people to ask about the SCOTUS decision. They can speak to whether or not the ACA is a good idea. Whether it’s a good idea is determined by the legislation, and SCOTUS is forced to assume it is if the legislation was passed. SCOTUS must then ask whether it’s legal, in which case you should ask people like me (though ones that you can trust).

    Whether you’ve got it right or not, the fact that so many get it wrong is the point of that upcoming post. People clearly address constitutionality based on whether they think it’s a good idea, and if the Court goes against them, they claim it’s playing politics. This is enormously selfish and arrogant. Your anecdotal, and almost certainly legally-ignorant, opinion shouldn’t drive American policy. That’s not democracy, but pay attention to how people address the ACA and other issues. When arguing constitutionality, they overwhelmingly base it on substantive questions of merit, showing a tremendous disrespect for democracy. It’s very frustrating to me, and it’s so typical I have trouble believing you don’t see it constantly. Even if one’s support of the ACA is somehow objectively correct, as I wrote in response to Moriarty, “It’s not enough to be right; you must be right for the right reasons.” Otherwise, you’re certain to be *very* wrong much later. (For example, section III-B of Justice Roberts’s majority decision has now opened the door to taxation of non-action, and that’s going to be *very* wrong in the future.)

    If I’m mischaracterizing your position, I apologize.

    1. What is most likely to be mischaracterized is my interpretation of KJ’s point in his post.

      To address your first point, KJ and I often miss the transition between fun and serious between the two of us. It occasionally gets ugly, but only for dumb reasons. Like the stupid nature of social media. (Woah. Context: mind blown).

      Your second point is valid. I read something into the original point that I thought was kind of offensive and I made a judgement on it. It is still difficult for me to read that blog and not come to the same conclusion, but now that I better understand the audiences he was targeting, I get it.

      Point three: Of course, I understand the difference between health policy and constitutional law (well, more specifically, I understand that there is a difference), but I had to go with the horse that brought me. For the record, a lot of these folks were tasked by their editors several months ago to get up to speed on the Constitutionality issues, since they were clearly important to the future of the legislation, and to make sure they’d built with sources who could later inform their articles when deadline time came. Is, for example, Matt Herper at Forbes a Constitutional scholar? Nope. He’s a pharma biz reporter (which actually gives him a potentially more legally diluted opinion than that of a pure health policy reporter). But does he know by now who he should and shouldn’t be quoting for context? He should. And when he Tweets someone else’s article, I read it because I consider it to be at least halfway vetted based on my experience with him.

      (I reference Herper not so much because he posted anything I specifically liked, but because he just seems to be an excellent journalist in a day and age when the nature of publishing makes that rare).

      At the end of the day, I’m still rolling the dice that these people know what they’re talking about. But as a guy with high blood pressure, that’s more comforting than having the urge to throw my computer out the window based on something clearly more ignorant or idiotic posted by an old college friend or bandmate who is clearly less informed. As I mentioned to KJ, I totally empathize with some of that frustration.

      Honestly, though, I don’t really think that either KJ or I was talking about the ruling itself, although the context you share is certainly valuable.

  5. Ok – let me see if I can do this without causing any more problems.

    After a lot of thought, it has become clear that I misunderstood nearly everything about this blog post. Most importantly I misunderstood its intent, which is very embarrassing and for which I am sorry.

    For the record, I also misunderstood the content — which plays some part in my misunderstanding the intent. I can explain that one away, but what’s the use at this point? I’m still sorry.

    Bystanders should know that I love KJ dearly, and that messing with one another has been part of the foundation of our friendship for a long, long time. Of course, every once in a while a game of slap fight gets ugly. For that reason, I will only play grabass moving forward.

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