Wednesday, March 02, 2005

"Let The People Vote!"-The Independent

Every so often we get a good example of the sort of mealy-mouthed, both-sides-of-the-fence, public-relations-oriented reasoning that so irritates me about the opponents of fiber on our side of the fence. The Independent offers it today.

Today's Independent editorial is a great example of positioning yourself to be right no matter which way the wind blows.

On the one hand you've got:
In our view, a referendum on fiber-to-the-home can’t happen soon enough. It’s time to let the people vote.
The next two sentences?
At press time, LCG and LUS were weighing their options and considering an appeal to Hebert’s ruling. It is imperative that the courts decide whether LUS’ application of this particular law for such projects is appropriate, so the case should go on. (emphasis mine)
That just about says it all.

The logic for going to referendum? Only that looks bad not to. I looked high and I looked low and I saw no other rationale. The Independent does not hint that it is the principled thing to do. Rather, it is the expedient thing to do—in their judgment.

The Independent had a choice here. They could have chosen to trust that the people can understand the objective situation we are in here in Lafayette and run a series of articles, emulating the dailies' educational pieces on its endorsement, laying out the plain and a simple case that the push for a vote is a tactic from Cox and BellSouth to advance their interests without any real regard for the rights of the people of Lafayette. Or, they could have chosen to lend their voice to the barrage of incumbent misinformation, foregoing using what influence they have to further expose the facts of the matter, and help BellSouth and Cox frame the issue as about voting rather than the value of a fiber optics network for the future of Lafayette.

I would have preferred the path of principle.


GumboFilé said...

There you go again, presuming lack of principle. I could presume something from this about you that may not be true, such as, there he goes again, attacking (albeit mildly) someone else, simply because he doesn't agree with them. It may not be true, but there does appear to be a pattern.

John said...

Hi Gumbofile,

I do think I overstepped here. I don’t think that it was because I presumed a lack of principle. More on that at the end.

In truth I do think the people at the Independent are principled folks. Carefully read I think I am saying that I believe these actions are unprincipled; that they chose to be expedient. I feel, pretty strongly, that letting yourself be governed by your fears about public relations, rather than your deeply held principles and your convictions about what is right is a dangerous path for the principled. It is too easy to lose sight of your principles.

About that I’m willing to pick on both sides. As I am sure that you noticed, the Independent is endorsing a referendum because they believe it the quickest and easiest way to win a fiber-optic network for Lafayette. I could have chosen to be expedient and emphasized the endorsement while de-emphasizing the “vote’ part. Didn’t do it because I think the truth lies in clearly explaining why the incumbents aren’t in this to support the people of Lafayette. I do think the people can understand not choosing to a knife fight with an opponent who has demonstrated that they won’t fight fair. I’d rather our side fought on the ground of principle rather than expediency. I’ve advised Fiber411 approximately the same way. So I do think there is a pattern established--in that I think you are correct--I just think (hope) the pattern has to do with being insistent that the best way to fight this fight is by choosing principle over the easy and expedient path. I urge both sides to do so.

(This same principle, incidentally, is what motivates what is an apparently quixotic attempt to get both sides to lay down the dishonest weapon that the Advertiser bond poll offers. I think we’d both be better off if we tried to get rid of a device that no one believes in. No response, though. Oh well. But you won’t hear me trumpeting it if our side wins. Though the champions of expedience will not doubt think me naive.)

‘Bout where I did overstep: I derided the Independent for playing both sides of the fence by being both for a referendum and for appeal. On reflection, I think that I was wrong. I treated those two as if they were exclusive choices and if they were maybe I would have been justified. But they are not and I should have recognized it. The appeal should go forward regardless. If the ruling is allowed to stand unchallenged it will radically alter the assumptions under which Louisiana bonds are issued. Bond all over the state have been issued under very different understandings. It needs to be cleared up and settled.

So the Independent was right about that part and principle not mealy-mouthedness best explains their position. I was wrong.

(Incidently gumbofile, babcock, that tendency to go off half cocked and say things I later regret is at least part of why I probably won’t accept your gracious invitation to participate over at the chatbox right now. It’s too easy to be thoughtless in that context. --That and I am already overbooked; gotta have some time for a life...)