An email came to our newsroom a few days before the special session suggesting we needed to pay attention to the opposition to the so-called jobs bill that would be considered by the legislature. The writer referred to the “Errortropolis” part of the bill — the tax credits that might be offered to establish a major airport trade hub at Lambert-St. Louis Airport. He was referring sarcastically to the proposal that backers call the “Aerotropolis,” a major business development at and for fifty miles around the airport.
We wrote back that we’d be covering the issue in hearings and debate. We also said that name-calling gained no points with us.
Some people think it is oh-so-clever to disparage someone else’s idea by giving it — or the person — a derogatory name. The opponent often thinks himself or herself clever.
Missourinet reporters spend a lot of time listening to debates and discussions of important public issues. This kind of “cleverness” robs those debates and discussions of the logic and reasonableness discussions of important public issues should have and are indicative of a lack of otherwise sound arguments for or against the issue. This “cleverness” disrespects the process, the issue, the people behind a proposal, and the people who might or might not benefit from it. If your position is so weak that you cannot win through logic and persuasion, you can always descend to name-calling. Sometimes, unfortunately, it works.
Bumper sticker politics, stereotyping, and name calling are not funny at the Missourinet.
We doubt that our admonition will mean jack to those who think public discourse on public policy should not rise above those levels. It’s why we try to find others who can argue merits and demerits of issues with enough intelligence that they don’t need to force their perceived cleverness into the discussion.
Bob, I agree with your point when the “name” is nasty or derogatory to a person, but as a master wordsmith, surely you appreciate the imagery you can achieve with the right choice of words.
As soon as you saw “Errortropolis” in that email you knew exactly where the writer stood on the issue. That’s called pithy.