Strangest Dang Thing

This has to be the weirdest thing I’ve seen in some time.  Rachel sends her state senator a letterexpressing concern about Stacey Campfield’s legislation which we have already discussed in such detail I won’t go over it again except to say that, as long as we have a first amendment, a third amendment, and a fourteenth amendment, Campfield can suck my butt*, and Bob Krumm calls her on it because Rachel might have used a form letter as the basis for her letter to the senator.

This would be a weird claim in any state, but let me just tell you a little about our state.  Fifty-three percent of us are illiterate or barely literate.

I bring that up because, for anybody, dealing with someone who has a lot of power when you don’t (say if you’re a young woman and you want to write a letter to a long-time state senator) is daunting.  You want to be sure that you get your point across and that you sound like a person whose ideas should be considered.

Form letters that can be altered to meet your needs are one way of achieving that.  I’m not trying to insinuate that Rachel is not very literate.  I’m just saying that, if Bob Krumm sets a standard that everyone who expects her concerns to be respected by her representative on the Hill must write her very own letter in exactly her words, well, I think he’s effectively eliminated 53% of the public.

It occurs to me that the problem really may be that Rachel has a point, a damn good one (that this legislation is a piece of crap) and there’s no arguing with the merits of her position.

So, instead, it’s the death by a thousand cuts.  She doesn’t complain about the legislation correctly.  Her complaining doesn’t matter because the legislation will never be passed.  She’s just complaining she got a form letter (never mind that the form letter a.) doesn’t address her concerns and b.) contains the phrase “the unwilling prospective mother,” which means that Senator Henry believes it’s okay for the state to force an unwilling woman to endure something painful that might kill her).

Overlook all that and instead focus on how Rachel didn’t jump through the hoops correctly.

What the fuck?

I’m of two minds about going to the blogger thing on the hill.  One, I would like to lay eyes on these folks and ask them questions and get answers.  But, two, god damn it, I can’t believe I’m going to admit this in public, I’m worried Smantix might be right.  I suspect he is.

Campfield threatened John H.’s job.  And Kara Watkins want me to give her my name, address, and phone number?  I can’t decide if I’m paranoid to be suspicious of that or smart. 

But I feel like a hypocrite dunked in rotten milk if I don’t go, because I was the one hollering that we weren’t invited.

Guide me, oh wise internet, guide me.


*I realize such scandalously harsh language has probably caused a certain segment of the Republican party to cry, but as long as you’re talking about giving the state the right to take over my body at any time in order to force me to do something dangerous against my will, I’m going to perceive that as a hostile act.  If I meet you in person, I’ll be polite, but don’t expect me to be docile. 

16 thoughts on “Strangest Dang Thing

  1. Just so I got this straight . . .

    A legislator should send an individualized response to a form letter mail campaign just in case the constituent is illiterate? If that’s the case, why does it matter what the written response is?

    Don’t confuse the subject of her concern with the subject of my post, which is: If you send a form letter, you can’t complain when you get a form letter in response.

  2. Bob, I was so tempted to answer your comment with a comment only tangentially related to what you said, just to be a pill, but I decided not to.

    Because, THAT’s Rachel’s point, not that it was a form letter, but that it was a form letter that was only tangentially related to her letter to him.

    Any state legislator who has half an eye on Campfield should have known, especially when similar letters started showing up in his office addressing Campfield’s legislation, that people are concerned about the implications of his proposals.

    I don’t have to tell you all the legal and moral problems with Campfield’s legislation. And, I’m sorry, I know you’re hell-bent on turning yourself into the smarter Terry Frank, but you’re too smart to sit there and pretend like you don’t get what Rachel’s upset about.

    This isn’t word association, where your constituent sends you a letter and you send her back the first letter that seems to kind of match. You craft some form letter that explains how you feel about the privacy issues and so on and send that.

    Rachel’s can’t be the only letter he got.

    And she has every right to complain that his form letter had nothing to do with her letter to him. If I sent you a form letter inviting you to lunch at the Mothership and you sent me back a form letter declining to discuss the ethics of meat-packing, wouldn’t you expect me to see that as strange?

  3. About going – I can’t decide. Part of me thinks you should go and wants you to go. The other part of me thinks that even though you’re not exactly completely a totally anonymous blogger anymore sort of… you should be able to hang onto the anonymity you do retain and not think twice about it, and not have anyone feeling like they have the right to say something about it. If that made any sense. Somewhere in the blondeness of that statement I know there’s some logic in there.

    Dear god, though, how I would love to be a fly on the wall when you introduced yourself to Campy.

  4. So Bob the Snob plans to speak out on the “cut and paste” pressure campaigns conducted by Focus on the Family too? The Eagle Forum? The RNC? The NRA? Good to know.

    B to the S might be interested to learn that the use of the political form letter goes back to before the Founders. The Anti-Federalists were particularly adroit at their circulation in trying to defeat the Federalists during the Constitutional debates of 1787 and the Federalists responded in kind. Were those abhorrent too? Or just the ones written by women and others who really shouldn’t be asking for inclusion in the political process?

  5. B., I think you should go. I have no doubt that the Powers That Be would put a big NO on it for me to go (and God knows I want to badly), but I have met Campy and he is worthy of meeting.
    He’s very, dare I say it, normal when you meet him. I met him last year and I think I had the shortest time as a link on his blog (it was like two hours.)
    B., I think you would bring a cool dynamic to the event.
    And, John H. was threatened by Campfield which still steams me and I have talked to the guys that represent me about this. The bills most likely won’t get out of committee, but the fact that he once again is turning into this weird Jessie Helms thing means he will gain a scary cult following which he may already have. Threatening people who disagree with you while one is office is scary to me because it is all about power and Campy threw that around.
    And Campy’s legislation (a lot of it) is junk bills designed to garner attention and we, me included, gave him what he wanted.
    A forum.
    As for the form letter non-controversy. Bob, I might not agree with you on many things you blog about, although I do on some things as well, but I do think you are confusing the issue here regarding Rachel’s post. And as President Harry Truman said “If you can convince them, confuse them.”

  6. I wonder if they’d really want me there. Although I’m a “bleeding heart conservative”, I’d say only 30-40% of the content posted at my blog is political / sociological . Do they want a blogger to attend who spent a large part of January and February talking about Jewel’s boobs?

    I care about issues, but I don’t live and breathe politics (and I kind of worry about those who do). I DID notice that the agenda is extremely wonkish – probably on purpose. Why would I want to sit through a subcommittee meeting? And does the fact that I don’t mean that I’m apolitical and therefore don’t count?

    As far as the form letters go, I’m afraid I can’t relate. My dad says I love to hear my own voice (and writing), and I guess it’s true. I reword web questionaires with my own flair. But, since I know I’m weird, I can’t exactly get mad at others for doing it differently.

  7. B. Personally I would find you brave either way. The reasons are obvious if you go. But you also blog annoymously to protect the identity of your family which is as noble of a purpose as I know. Standing up against those who have a higher authority is a challenge. You have to pick your battles wisely. I guess, for me, it comes down to which action will serve your purposes the best?

  8. “If I sent you a form letter inviting you to lunch at the Mothership and you sent me back a form letter declining to discuss the ethics of meat-packing, wouldn’t you expect me to see that as strange?” Thank you, B – that’s exactly it. There’s also apparently the “you got *a* response and I didn’t, so don’t complain” rule, of which I was unaware.

  9. I would suggest that “Rachel sent a form letter first” is a red herring from the very start. I’ve sent countless letters to legislators of both the form and wholly original varieties over the years and almost always gotten the form letter in response (John Ariolla being the only counter-example that stands out in my memory). Often I’ve gotten the EXACT SAME form letter back for different but tangentially related issues.

    So I’m certain she would have gotten exactly the letter she got regardless of whether she used a form herself.

  10. I agree with Lynnster’s take on the ‘go or not go’ issue. It’s a tough choice. Whichever you choose, as long as you choose for yourself, will be right.

    It’s okay not to go, even though you complained about the exclusion. They should have been inclusive from the start, regardless of whether anyone who wasn’t already invited would want to go; that’s their issue, not yours. It’s okay to go, too. You have as much a right to be there as any, and I think you’d add to the event (even if all you did was make people vaguely uncomfortable once they figured out who you were).

    The form letter thing annoys me. I understand their purpose on both ends, and I agree with their use for practical reasons. But it doesn’t take long to craft a form letter that addresses the issue at hand; that’s what aides and assistants are for. If you don’t have anyone competent enough to draft letters that are at least in the direction of what segments of your constitutency are complaining about, you need new staff. And if there’s no one in your staff to kick you in the butt and point out that you need to address these things, even if you don’t personally think so, you definitely need new staff.

    Heck, I’d volunteer (it’s not unlike what I do right this minute… I draft form letters every month at the very least), except for the fact that I think I’d throw things if I had to write about his particular stance on those particular issues. That, and y’all are pretty far away.

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  12. I know! That would be hilarious, but probably not terribly productive.

    Of course, I currently take my lunch and go hide in my car for an hour rather than doing anything interesting, so I think I could stand a little unproductivity.

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