Friday, February 19, 2010

Tossing out a quote

In the letters to the editor for the February 19, 2010 edition of the San Antonio Express-News, a reader named Stephen Baird from New Braunfels writes in to speak against the health care system as it is. But, in making his point, he closes his letter with this short paragraph:
How many people have to die before we fix this? As Bob Dylan wrote, “The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.”


Can you make sense of his closing point? What does the Dylan quote have to do with a distaste for insurance companies in particular and corporations in general? And how does it answer the question, "How many people have to die before we fix this?"

That's a strange, incongruous way to end an argument, by posing a question followed by an unrelated quote. But, hey, I guess it could work in just about any situation, if you can say it with enough conviction to fool your listener into thinking you know what you are talking about.

I think I could do it, too. How about this as a closing to a hypothetical argument:
How many pointless laws do we need to pass in this state before we finally have had enough? As William Shakespeare wrote, "Et tu, Bruté?"

Or this:
How many reporters need to be jailed before we start enacting shield laws to protect them and their sources? As Gerard Manely Hopkins wrote, "It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil / Crushed."

Or even this:
How much deeper can our national deficit go? As Lewis Carroll wrote, "One, two! One, two! and through and through / The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!"

Well, I guess that's easier than I thought. I kinda like this rhetorical device. I hope I can remember it the next time I engage in a little sharing of opinions.

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