Choosing one's fights, was Re: George W. Bush's Speech on September 20, 2001

From: Michael M. Butler (
Date: Sat Sep 22 2001 - 13:06:56 MDT

Eugene Leitl wrote:
> On Fri, 21 Sep 2001, Michael M. Butler wrote:
> > I consciously adopt the language of my audience. At the end of a
> > recent post, I mentioned God even though I'm an agnostic. Was the rest
> > of the content valuable, or rendered valueless?
> The latter.

Well, so you say. Thanks. I must take you literally here--you mean to
say that you read the piece and decided the final phrase abnegated the other
content. Too bad; I thought you might have more of a sense of proportion.
It's me, Michael Butler, here, 'gene. Don't we know each other, a little,
after all this time on the list?

> To cite a recent case, a superficially reasonable email on
> post-WTC policy sailed into my inbox a few days ago. It made sense right
> unto the final sentence, which read "God bless America". Now, I don't
> trust people basically driven by inscrutable motivations. One might
> support points of policy, warily so, but certainly not the person pushing
> it. Sooner or later, the dissonance must surface.
> He might be playing for his audience, but can you afford the benefit of
> doubt in such cases?

I can at least remember to ask the question every time I *don't*
get a boatload of other troublesome signals. YMMV.

I do not consider the expression "God bless America" inscrutable.
People who use it _are_ deserving of close inspection. Some are OK.
It is a trope. There is a limit on everyone's attention. Choose wisely.

The trick is to make no unnecessary enemies. If it is a foregone
conclusion that anyone who believes in a supreme being is an enemy,
you have made 80% of the world your enemy. I repeat, choose wisely.

The key, it seems to me, is to come to know one's speakers.
That takes the establishment of a relationship, over time.


PS: Further ex.: One can twist my current .sig into an excuse for atrocity.
Tough. If I catch you doing that, I will punish you--whoever you are.

Job One:  MAKE YOURSELF USEFUL.  If you're not part of the solution, 

what are you doing scumming up the bottom of our beaker? --MMB 02001.09.21

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Oct 12 2001 - 14:40:55 MDT