Out of Touch


Chris Bowers makes a point here that is both amusing and completely correct. He cites recent polling showing that legalizing marijuana gets the approval of about 40% of the population, and yet this issue isn’t taken remotely seriously by the national media or politicians of either party. On the other hand, plenty of attention and respect is granted to far more unpopular positions, such as decreasing business regulations (28%), Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell (17%), and, hell, being a Republican (31%). There are two important points here, which Bowers doesn’t make explicitly in this post because he knows his audience already understands them.

The first is the obvious one that the Obama Administration has been making for several weeks now: that the national media (or the Village if you prefer) is out of touch with the country. No big surprise.

The other point is more subtle, and I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s really why all this stuff matters. The boundaries of legitimate public discourse are completely arbitrary (legalizing pot is out, but deregulation is in) but extremely important: in this country, if an issue is out of bounds, no action will be taken on it. They are also nearly impossible to define objectively: after all, 40% of Americans also believe in ghosts, and 25% in astrology (!), but I don’t want these to become legitimate topics of public debate. But hopefully this reinforces the idea that the Watergate-era image of journalists as nothing more than tireless seekers of truth is incomplete; journalists are also gatekeepers to the realm of public discourse, and deciding what gets in and what gets kept out isn’t a high-minded exercise – it’s power politics.


2 Responses

  1. wait, you don’t believe in the subject you studied for 6 years…?

  2. lol

    Well, ghosts are a total crock at least..

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