Shouting makes for good TV and “iffy” PR

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Hi all- it’s Lee, Senior Account Supervisor, checking in:

With the heath care debate raging, we here at LCI have marveled these past few weeks at the public display of anger and frustration erupting at town hall meetings all over the country. No matter what side of the debate you’re on, it’s impossible to ignore a loud and fierce opposition. For me, the most interesting reaction to the public outrage actually came from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi when she called the seemingly well-orchestrated disruptions at the town hall meetings “un-American.”

Yikes! Talk about cringe-worthy.

I’d venture to say that “un-American” is synonymous with a second cringe-worthy term: dangerous. Is language dangerous? Growing up in Texas, the school board called Huck Finn dangerous. A couple of years later, rap music was dangerous. After Columbine, video games were dangerous. Listen to rap while playing video games anywhere in the vicinity of a Mark Twain novel….Armageddon.

As media professionals, we tend to spend a lot of time with writers and producers who will argue until blue in the face the importance of First Amendment rights, protecting American’s freedom of speech. My buddy Adam, a beat reporter at the Burlington Free Press, has carried around a pocket Constitution for more than a decade, ready to reach for the First Amendment like a pistol at a gun fight. The First Amendment was written to protect dissenting opinion. Is vocalizing dissention “un-American”?

From a PR perspective, loud, fierce and riotous behavior at town hall meetings isn’t what we’d typically call the best idea. It’s just not that productive. More than anything, their argument tends to get lost in the theatrics.

That’s not to say shouting doesn’t get attention. If the goal of the opposition was to get on the front page of the New York Times, mission accomplished. Ultimately, though, according to Newsweek, while the jury is still out on health care reform, cooler heads are winning over the majority of Americans. I do think there is a place for, and value in, the kinds of back and forth taking place in these riotous public forums. By the same token, thanks to the First Amendment, Pelosi has the right to say what she wants to, too.

OK, things are looking pretty small from up here on my soap box, so I’m stepping down for now. Onto “Buzzworthy mentions of the week.”

Buzzworthy mentions:

Check out New People, an ultra-mod 20,000 sq. foot complex in Japantown (1746 Post St.), three stories and a basement dedicated to Japanese pop culture, from fashion to cinema.

Starbelly at 3583 16th St (between Pond St & Noe St) just opened with a stellar brunch and dinner menu –quality California cuisine!

Avatar Day: A couple of lucky Californians will get a sneak peek at James Cameron’s “mind blowing” new 3D flick, Avatar, a full 5 months early! On August 21, the world will get its first look when Twentieth Century Fox screens extended footage for what they are calling a global “Avatar Day” event. The new film apparently pushes the envelope on 3D technology so far that it’ll make your head “virtually” fall off.

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2 Comments

  1. david Reply

    Lee – all great thoughts. I agree that I may not always agree with everyone, but I’ll defend to the death their right to say it. Now, THAT’S American!

  2. Amanda Reply

    I think to label something “un-American” defies the concept of America as an ideologically diverse nation – something most Americans pride themselves on. I visited the New People complex, and I must say it is extremely impressive and definitely worth a trip to Japantown (if the authentic ramen and sushi aren’t enough). The fashions straight out of Japan are mind-blowing, and the art galleries showcase works by some of Japan’s best modern artists.