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Member since: Thu Apr 29, 2010, 03:31 PM
Number of posts: 43,131

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Rum Pa Pa Pum

The Ethics of Metaphor

In this article, the author suggest four tests for assessing the ethical use of metaphors such as naziism and slavery in public discourse. I'm interested in DU's collective response ...


1. The History Test. How closely does the metaphor correspond to the facts of the case, as best we understand them? When the Arizona congressman Trent Franks compares abortion to genocide, for example, we can begin by asking what is meant by genocide, what forms does it take, what are its legal definitions. Where has it historically occurred, and under what conditions? Who has sponsored and who has suffered it? In short, we attempt to understand the term in all its legal, cultural, and historical contexts. And this means we have to know what such terms mean before using them.

2. The Resonance Test. Certain metaphors and similes have a unique cultural power to incite. Such language goes beyond literal meanings to invoke longer histories of associations and images. “Hitler” is one such term. When we think of Hitler, we think of more than an individual, no matter how invidious. We recall the Warsaw ghetto, the death camps, and the gas chambers. “Hitler” is not simply the name of a person; it is a vessel brimming with historical memories. It is a bell that, when you ring it, the room is filled with other sounds, other echoes. There are many such terms: “lynching,” “blood libel,” “apartheid.” If we are to use such terms, we need to attend to their place in our collective cultural consciousness.

3. The Proportionality Test. Is the seriousness of the metaphor proportional to that which it is applied? Some years ago, I read a story in The Boston Globe in which a sportswriter described the walls of Fenway Park as closing in on the visiting pitcher the way Russian tanks surrounded Czechoslovakia during the Prague Spring. The metaphor failed, quite horribly, the proportionality test. When sensationalism overcomes judgment, we may be entering the realm of unethical discourse.

4. The Quiet Room Test. I use “Quiet Room” here to indicate a place for writers’ self-examination. The final test of the ethical metaphor, in other words, is the one we administer to ourselves. Deep down, we know—do we not?—when we are arguing to incite or to enlighten, to inflame or to understand. The last test, then, is the one we take in our own Quiet Rooms, evaluating the intentions and effects of our words.

Wisconsin: Meet AG candidate Ismael Ozanne forum in Fond du Lac Monday, December 9

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne is an experienced prosecutor with deep roots in Wisconsin. He is a candidate for Wisconsin Attorney General.

You Are Invited!
December Monthly Meeting
Join Us to Make A Difference!

Where? Fond du Lac Co. Labor Council Hall – 52 E. Bank St., Fond du Lac
When? Monday, December 9, 2013
Time: Meeting start: 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.


Call to order.

Guest Speaker: Ishmael Ozanne, Democratic Candidate for Wisconsin Attorney General

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne is an experienced prosecutor with deep roots in Wisconsin. He is a candidate for Wisconsin Attorney General.


Ismael Ozanne is a front-line prosecutor with 13 years of experience. Ozanne currently serves as District Attorney in Dane County, the state’s second largest county. Ozanne has dedicated his career to public service and at the Department of Corrections he helped lead Wisconsin’s prison system and largest state agency. Throughout his career, Ismael Ozanne has fought to keep families and communities safe and he’ll do the same as Wisconsin’s Attorney General.

District Attorney Ismael Ozanne is a sixth generation Wisconsinite. He was born in Madison and has deep roots in the capital city as well as the Fox Valley.

Learn more about Ismael and join the campaign at: iozanne.com

You live in a barn or what?

Converted barns can make great homes ...

"The American fascist would prefer not to use violence."

Ideas like that will get you shot.

Chris Hayes quote

Waste not, want not


This is a photo snatched from the facebook wall of Matt Powers. He says this was taken in the Rib Mountain shopping district. He noted that “Not only was it Black Friday but it was 9 degrees out. Now that’s chutzpah.”

What do you think? Is she (1) a person living in near-poverty who is overjoyed to find a deer big enough to provide multiple healthy meals for a family and just small enough for her to manage by herself on her only mode of transportation – a bike?

Or is she (2) a “foodie” and bicycle enthusiast from Madison visiting her northern family who thought it would …. ?

Yeah. I can’t even bring myself to finish the (2) answer. Whatever the story is, I say bon appetit and Happy Thanksgiving to her.

Masters of Manipulation

Investigative journalism lives on ....


Right-wing billionaires, corporations and the Bradley Foundation pay for junk studies that prop up their agenda

According to a new study by the Madison-based watchdog group Center for Media and Democracy, the 63 think tank members of State Policy Network (SPN) have worked hand in hand with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to craft pro-corporate, anti-democratic legislation that boosts their donors’ bottom line. The allegedly independent, nonpartisan think tanks in SPN—including the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute and the John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy—provide and share the ideologically skewed data and analyses that form the justification for bills to sabotage Obamacare, gut workers’ rights and ban unions, reform the tax code to benefit the wealthy and corporations, roll back environmental protections, expand school vouchers and privatization, abolish Common Core standards and more.


Bradley Foundation Outspends Koch Brothers

With more than $550 million in assets, the Bradley Foundation sunk at least $31 million into its voucher studies and programs, according to a report by One Wisconsin Now (OWN). But its funding is sent to other conservative, free-market foundations and think tanks around the country. “They are the biggest funder of right-wing causes in the nation,” said Mike Browne, OWN’s deputy director. “They spend more money than the Koch brothers.”

The Bradley Foundation is a huge supporter of members of the State Policy Network in Wisconsin and elsewhere. According to OWN’s research, the Bradley Foundation has given more than $16.5 million to the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute and $635,000 to John K. McIver Institute for Public Policy. The two groups are SPN members that have provided voucher-supporting studies and analysis at the same time they attempt to pass themselves off as independent, straight-shooting think tanks.


WPRI, which bills itself as “Wisconsin’s Free Market Think Tank,” has precious few scholars on staff—none, in fact. Its president is former Journal Sentinel columnist Mike Nichols and its lead commentators are WTMJ’s Charlie Sykes (whose current wife works for the Bradley Foundation), political consultant Deb Jordahl and former Department of Administration Secretary George Lightbourn. WPRI’s board is dominated by the state’s corporate chiefs, including Tom Howatt, chair of Wausau Paper Corp.; Bank Mutual President David Baumgarten; ex-MillerCoors Vice President Michael Jones; former Thompson administration official and We Energies Senior Vice President James Klauser; Milwaukee investor David Lubar; and Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) President Tim Sheehy.

A very strange thing

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