Exercise awareness with political rhetoric

Published 6:22 pm Tuesday, January 14, 2014

To the editor:
Readers everywhere, not just Bulletin readers, need to exercise awareness when they read politically charged letters to the editor.
Standard political rhetoric is often guilty of stating opinion as if it were fact. Karl
Kachadoorian wrote a letter (Jan. 8) entitled ‘Obamacare Taxes & Fees.’ In paragraph one he stated “the Democrats passed (the bill) without reading it… how dumb is that?”
One would infer from this statement that not one Democrat read the bill. How did Mr. K know this? If true, how did he find it out? Did he substantiate his statement by citing an authoritative source or did he make a sweeping generalization of his own and represent it as fact?
Another standard tactic in letters to the editor is to insert shock value. In Mr. Kachadoorian’s second paragraph he wrote, “Let’s take a look at some of these costs that insurance companies and health providers got along without just fine…” First, to lump insurance companies with health providers is astounding. They do battle daily.
Insurance companies have heavy say in how much health providers are paid. Ask any health provider if he or she “got along fine” prior to Obamacare or did they cry out for change in the system. Readers should not skim through and accept subjective shocking statements.
A third way letter writers catch attention is to use witty sarcasms that induce the reader to agree. Examples include, “How dumb is that?” and “…whatever that is” and “Of course there are those little ugly…hidden taxes” and “we can salvage the disaster we’re facing.” It’s perfectly OK for writers to use colorful language and pick verbs and adjectives to drive home the point he or she wants to make. But, reader, beware of dramatic hyperbole that belittles, bites and rants. It’s called political theater in the guise of true debate.
I have read Karl Kachadoorian’s letters for some time. He’s good at it, a smart man. I almost want to apologize to him for using his letter as an example of an incendiary, misleading message. He at least cites some numbers to make his points.
Frankly, I think politically motivated letters to the editor are wonderful exercises. After the war of words is over, Republicans vote Republican, Democrats vote Democrat and independents boast of their freedom from political involvement, in my opinion.

-Dan Trumble,

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