Sep 152009
Authors: Johnathan Kastner

As an uninsured person with some truly interesting pre-existing conditions, the health care debate is of little personal interest to me. I’m also fairly confident that the death panels won’t be able to find where I’ve buried my heart.

So I fully intended to let this whole thing blow over and pick up the pieces in 2012 when Obama finishes us off by disguising his evil program to feed all our children to bears as a school lunch program. But then I realized, no, I can fix this.

By “this” I of course mean the sub-par techniques being used by the current crop of protestors to obliterate logic and demean the very notion of intelligent discourse. If you think I’m picking too much on your favorite political movement, rewind to the Bush era a few years ago and fixate on those protestors, or wait a few years for the liberals to be the angry mob again.

The most familiar method for desecrating logic can be explained by Godwin’s Law — the notion that the longer a debate goes on, the more likely that someone will be called Hitler.

Very few people in history have ever actually been the Hitler — only the one thus far — but this does not stop the Mustache of Oppression from making its annual appearance on someone’s otherwise clean-shaven mug.

While the Mustache of Doom does a very good job of projecting fearful consequence on the bearer, it somewhat distracts from the point. Distracting from conversation is all well and good, but to truly make certain that the carnival is on full display, we need something that finds where logic is sleeping and smothers it with a pillow.

I’ve seen some Obama-Jokers. What I’d really like to see is some Obama-Agent Smiths, the villain from “The Matrix” trilogy. For one thing, he’d look really cool in shades. For another, the message would be really, really confused.

Is the protestor saying that Obama is going to infest all of our brains and make us into his deadly duplicates? Is he calling health care “The Matrix”? It doesn’t matter. You’re looking at a sign and, man, someone’s upset about something. Conversation has died, and the important part, the being upset about something, lives on.

Speaking of being upset, I’ve seen a lot of resurgence in an old favorite — yelling really loudly. This is an old one, as it’s akin to yelling “boo” at a stage, only instead of yelling when something is upsetting, it’s all about never stopping booing. This is great — no one can tell what the speaker is saying, and no one can tell what exactly is upsetting. Communication is killed on both fronts.

The unfortunate thing here is that some clue of intent can still be gleaned by assuming that the protestors are opposed to every single thing that might have been said if they weren’t yelling. Specific disagreements and what is offensive and why may never be learned, but we’re dangerously close to accidentally conveying meaning.

Since no one can hear anyone and loud noises are really fun, everyone should go buy an air horn. The next time someone says something you disagree with, honk the air horn until it breaks. If they’re savvy, they’ll honk theirs right back, and the contest will be determined just as our forefathers intended — by who can afford the most air horns.

So everyone, please remember, with an issue as central to all our lives as health care, it’s not so much what we say that’s important, but rather, how we say it that indicates how we’re doing as a country. And how we’re doing is clearly Hoooooooonk.

Johnathan Kastner is a senior undeclared major with a physical and mathematical sciences interest. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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