First person plural

Chris,

In addition to Starchild's excellent enumeration of
the crucial differences, there is also the reality that
Stossel is a journalist, so he is part of the media.

However, you, Starchild, and I are neither part
of the govt, nor its decision-making process, nor
its appointees (those who voted for them).

We are not part of the "we" who invaded Iraq
and are continuing to murder innocents there.

BTW, since you would say (accurately) "the police
busted four pot-smokers in Delores Park", not
" `we' busted them," isn't it consistent to say "the
US military bombed Baghdad," rather than " `we
bombed Baghdad?"

Best, Michael

Michael,

  Exactly!
            <<< Starchild >>>

Chris,

In addition to Starchild's excellent enumeration of
the crucial differences, there is also the reality that
Stossel is a journalist, so he is part of the media.

However, you, Starchild, and I are neither part
of the govt, nor its decision-making process, nor
its appointees (those who voted for them).

We are not part of the "we" who invaded Iraq
and are continuing to murder innocents there.

BTW, since you would say (accurately) "the police
busted four pot-smokers in Delores Park", not
" `we' busted them," isn't it consistent to say "the
US military bombed Baghdad," rather than " `we
bombed Baghdad?"

Best, Michael

From: "Starchild" <sfdreamer@earthlink.net>
To: <lpsf-discuss@yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Sunday, February 01, 2004 12:02 AM
Subject: [lpsf-discuss] Re: First person plural

Chris,

I agree that when John Stossel says things like "we in the media,"

it

is very disarming. He is a tremendously effective communicator all

the

way around. However I see some important differences between his
speaking style and the habit of people living in a particular

country

to use words like "we" and "our" to refer to the governments of the
countries they live in and the actions of those governments.

(1) The nationalism fueled by people around the world identifying

with

their countries and national governments contributes to things like
racism, emigration controls, restrictions on trade, the bombing of
civilians, etc. I see no comparable problems fueled by members of

the

press identifying with their profession.

(2) It is more appropriate for Stossel to speak about the actions of
the media in personal terms, because by his own admission, he was
formerly an active part of the problem -- even one of its leading
practitioners. He was directly engaged in producing the very type of
journalism that he now rightly criticizes.

(3) When Stossel addresses the public, whether in person or via his
programs or his book, he is generally speaking to people who are

*not*

part of the media. Thus by personally owning part of the problem, he

is

not simultaneously implicating his listeners. But when Americans say
things like "our embassy" or "we decided to require foreign airlines

to

have armed marshals on board certain flights," to other Americans,

they

are not only assuming responsibility for these things themselves,

but

implying ownership and often guilt in their audience as well.

(4) I think that the assumption of a national frame of reference is
often unconscious, whereas Stossel's use of the possessive to refer

to

his colleagues in the media seems more deliberate. I often see a
nationalist perspective being assumed without any apparent
consideration for whether it is the most appropriate frame of

reference

for the topic at hand, such as when discussing problems like poverty

or

environmental degradation that are global in scope and much more
serious outside the United States.

Yours in liberty,
<<< Starchild >>>

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA1

I was reading my new John Stossel book when I realized something.

Starchild and I (and others) have debated a bit about using "we"

and

"us"
to talk about the United States and its government. I believe

that I

have
partial responsibility for things the US government does, even if

I

oppose
those things, while Starchild emphasizes that he did not give them
permission to act in his name. I think we both have good moral

and

philosophical arguments on our sides.

In _Give Me a Break_, Stossel criticizes the media many times (and

in

his
talk on Friday). When he does, he says things like, "We in the
media...". I was thinking about why he did it and why I found it

so

disarming.

I think it makes his criticism much more effective. He's

admitting to

being part of the problem, and therefore has more cachet in

pointing it

out. His criticism becomes more valid. He also gets credit for
trying to
help solve the problem, for doing his part, rather than for just
criticizing others.

And that, I think, is a good reason to continue to use

first-person

plural
to talk about the US. Second-person is out: haranguing a crowd

about

*their* problems is unlikely to be effective. But by saying "we,"

you

put
yourself the speaker and the audience into one boat, folks with a
common
problem that we can all work together to fix. Saying "the

government"

or
"they" means that someone else has a problem, and trying to fix

someone

else's problems is unpleasant at best and impossible at worst.

But if

we -
the electorate and citizenship - are partly responsible, then it's

a

lot
easier for *us* to fix the problem. We - the voters to whom

you're

speaking included - can make a change, just by changing how *we*

vote

and
think about *our* representatives and their actions. It's easy

for

folks
to dismiss what goes on in Sacramento and Washington as Somebody

Else's

Problem. If you make it their problem, they'll want to invest in

the

solution.

~Chris
- --
"Reality is a pie of which I do not require another slice."
    ~ Shelley Winters, "Scary Go Round" by John Allison
Freelance text nerd: <URL: http://crism.maden.org/ >
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Michael,

  Exactly!
            <<< Starchild >>>