Friday, March 12, 2010

"Down the Republicans' Throats"

cross-posted at Dagblog

It's clearly an orchestrated Republican talking point that health care reform is being "rammed" (or jammed, or crammed) "down our throats." That talking point is silly and deceptive. (After bills passed the House and passed the Senate with a 60-vote majority, the vote to make the details of those bills match is undemocratic?) But I also admit, I find it hilarious.

"Ramming [x] down our throats" is a stereotypical cri de couer on comic-book messageboards, where it's used by fanboys or fangals who've gotten their (Spiderman-themed) undergarments in a knot over some comic-book storyline that displeases them. (Example: "Anyone who understands Batman at all would know that he could never feel the same kind of love for another woman that years of continuity have shown that he feels for Selina Kyle. DC Comics is ruining the character by RAMMING this Silver St. Cloud "romance" DOWN OUR THROATS!") So every time I hear John Boehner use that phrase, I find it hysterically funny. It's like he's some guy who's on the verge of tears about the Blue Beetle not having a monthly comic anymore.

When comic-book fans protest that writers are "ramming a story down our throats" they simply mean that the writers have written a story. That said story happens to displease that particular fans is infuriating, and a sign that, somehow, that the fan's integrity and free will have been violated. (Of course, only a small, vocal, and immature minority of comics fans are like this. But they are, alas, usually among the first ones you'll notice.) The phrase connotes a certain self-righteous hysteria, combined with a deep presumption of hysteria. The fan has not actually helped participated in creating the new Batman storyline, but (s)he feels a right to veto any storyline that is not acceptable by his or her own idiosyncratic standards. The implicit argument is that the writers should provide the fans only with exactly the stories the fans want.

When John Boehner or Mitch McConnell say that a piece of legislation is being "rammed down our throats," they simply mean that they have lost a vote in Congress. The implicit argument is that the losing side should not have to accept losing votes simply because the other side actually, um, outvoted them. And it presumes, oddly, that a piece of legislation should be designed to please all of the legislators who did not participate in writing it and who did not want it to pass. But weirdly, the people who are opposed to bills generally don't like those bills. That's how the world works.

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