Thursday, July 24, 2003

(Let's try this again)

"The Deep End and the Shallow End"
I began this as an extension of my last post but I'm continuing it here instead. I haven't quite gotten over Nathan Newman's comments to me on the status of judges as an intellectual elite, any more than I can the behavior of that elite itself, judicial or otherwise. Nathan's frustration is justified: the elite now talks only to itself, and in a tone that makes me cringe. In theory I should be able to chat away amicably with any number of the erudite and educated, on the web and off, but I don't. I've spent so many years working the mines, even in my bohemian sort of way, that I can't ignore the condescension I've faced -and that others have faced far longer than I have- from those who assume they are in some way superior. The simplest examples concern obviously society and money: the 12 year old on the corner of 82nd and Madison yelling, "Look at the workers, the dirty, stupid, smelly workers!" But that's just an aside, and an extreme one. What's really annoying is not the contempt of the rich but the condescension of the educated.
The point here is not my anger but something just removed from it. I'm trying to understand and then to explain why I find the constant references to polling so offensive. Newsmen and pundits on both sides, meaning conservative and 'liberal,' point to cheap responses to cheap questions given to people they would never wish to spend time with, and then use those responses to point to the validity, moral or political, of whatever ideas win the race.

A few weeks ago Tapped commented about a piece on objectivity and the press in the Columbia journalism Review. I did a little digging. It's here. When I first read it it struck me as odd, but I didn't go the the article itself. Now I have. Here's most of what Tapped wrote:

"The Columbia Journalism Review's Brent Cunningham has a big cover story in the latest issue. The subject? "Objectivity" and its meaning in journalism. Cunningham provides a useful and fascinating history of objectivity -- the ideology of journalists -- and explores a question that has always fascinated Tapped: whether "objectivity" provides truth. When it came to George W. Bush's tax cuts, for instance, the conventions of objectivity -- quoting both sides' interpretations of what should have been an empirical question -- has allowed the president to get away with misleading the public on an issue of major importance."

What Tapped is describing is not 'objectivity' but 'passivity,' and although the article deals with this issue, I find the confusion itself disturbing. If I were a judge hearing a case, listening to the arguments from a prosecutor and defense attorney, would this definition of objectivity be considered appropriate?
I don't think so.

What is this definition of democracy where we compete in our ignorance?
"I dunno. Wha d'you think?"
"I dunno. Wha d'YOU think?"

Or when we pay lip service to a notion of equality we disparage in private?

more later

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comment moderation is enabled.