Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

Makes You Want to Throw Your Hands (Or Something) Up

File this under “Just when you thought you’d heard it all”.

There have been moments lately when I’ve genuinely wondered about people’s ability to access common sense. Not all people, and not all one political party or the other. But check out these three examples of people, from public officials to public employees to public figures, who frankly ought to know better than to do or say what they’ve done or said.

I speak of two news items and an interview that really got my attention this week. One got my attention in the context of “civility in public discourse”, an issue that was raised loudly, shortly after Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was shot, in January. One got my attention in the context of that same Giffords shooting, having to do with “have we learned nothing?”. And one got my attention in the context of public safety issues.

First one: Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly conducted an interview with US Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) on the subject of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and whether he should recuse himself when hearing cases in which he might have a conflict of interest thanks to his wife’s lobbying efforts. Let us set aside the topic. Let us set aside whether Ms. Kelly is with Fox News or NBC News or the “Elm Street Elementary School News”. Let us set aside Rep. Weiner’s political party. Let us set aside whether Megyn Kelly is a journalist or a commentator. Those are all topics for another time. Instead, watch this clip, especially beginning about three minutes in, and see if you don’t think you’re watching a TV personality basically telling off a sitting United States Congressman.

Come to think of it, whether she’s Megyn Kelly or Gene Kelly, and whether he’s Anthony Weiner or an Oscar Meyer Weiner … makes no difference. Speaking as a former journalism major, I think Rep. Weiner is right about what is proper interview form; and I think Ms. Kelly is making a complete fool of herself by rolling her eyes and displaying utter contempt for her interview subject. I’ve heard BBC interviewers pretty effectively skewer their interview subjects if they think they’ve got their facts wrong, and they were forceful, and sometimes interrupted their interview subjects to clarify this or that point; but ultimately they did it respectfully and without resorting to belittling them. Megyn didn’t.


Second one: How in the name of Heaven can a group of legislators watch the shooting of a United States congresswoman from their very own state, and then two months later go and pass a bill that essentially establishes blanket legalization of the carrying of guns at any public event in that state? Apparently, the Arizona state legislature knows how to do this. But if the crafting and passing of this legislation doesn’t call into question the very humanity of Arizona’s elected representatives, at least it demonstrates their utter lack of awareness of irony. Do they have any faint clue how this looks?


And to my eye, amazingly, this is the worst one: As much as the Wisconsin state capital is probably starting to really smell like Unwashed Protester, and as much as some Wisconsin state legislators would probably like to have a moment’s peace and quiet in the building where they work… Well, you can debate whether protesters should or should not be allowed to protest in perpetuity inside the state capitol; and you can debate whether Gov. Scott Walker is pulling out absolutely all the stops he can think of, to try and get his policies in place; and you can debate whether public employee unions are destroying this country or saving it for the middle class and poor of America. But you cannot debate this: it is beyond inappropriate – it is just plain dangerous, a display of complete disregard for public safety, to prohibit firefighters responding to a call from getting to the location of that call.

And that, staggeringly, appears to be what happened in Madison on Thursday.

Firefighters received an emergency call saying that someone inside the Wisconsin state capitol building (it turned out to be a police officer) was trapped in an elevator. The firefighters didn’t know whether there was maybe a medical emergency associated with this; their job was to rescue a citizen stuck in an elevator. And when they tried to enter the building, security personnel refused to let them in. Refused!

I sincerely hope this was not politically tinged. But whether or not anyone can prove that these security officers were following politically motivated instructions, or were just being more “letter of the law” than “spirit of the law” guys… will someone please explain to me, if these security personnel have not been fired yet, why they have not been fired yet?

What … in the hell … is going on lately?


March 4, 2011 - Posted by | celebrity, government, journalism, media, news | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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