Rhetorical hysteria

Posted: Tuesday, October 16, 2001

Reading Dale Anderson and Jeff Troutt's editorial writings in the Sunday Empire pertaining to the library land issue neatly illustrates some of the obvious problems in Juneau's contemporary political environment. Too many decisions are based on personality instead of the merits.

Mr. Anderson insists he is simply communicating with the local electorate and wraps himself up in constitutional free speech rights. Mr. Troutt bemoans personal attacks and then launches what appeared to be a series of somewhat sanctimonious personal attacks. Troutt then calls for unity and concluded by wondering whether Juneau will remain the capital city if we disagree with each other.

In fact, Mr. Anderson commenced this messy little debate with an editorial column last week chastising one of six Assembly members who supported a decision to acquire land for a library in the Valley. Mr. Anderson elected to articulate his concerns regarding the library acquisition in a particularly peculiar way.

Let's be honest here, Mr. Anderson did not communicate with the electorate in a reasoned manner calling for reconsideration of the library vote and positing sensible alternatives. No, Mr. Anderson started this debate with his personalized column hammering one member of the Assembly.

Mr. Anderson and Mr. Troutt unquestionably have a right to their opinions. Mr. Anderson and Mr. Troutt certainly have a right to speak their minds freely. Still, they might each give some thought to the difference between speech and rhetoric. Effective speech is almost always grounded in some truth. Too often rhetoric is disconnected from reality. It seems to me that Mr. Anderson and Mr. Troutt have lost sight of the truth they seek and have let rhetorical posturing overwhelm common sense.

In truth, alternatives may actually exist that would meet our library needs and better serve our entire community. If it is indeed time to commence active planning for a Valley library, we should do so in an orderly manner. The Assembly made the decision to acquire the land after review of other parcels. The process used to acquire the land and the vote by a majority of the Assembly suggests an orderly review was conducted.

Still, many of us recall the original discussion to locate a library facility at Dimond Park. Some of us actually wonder whether the proposed library couldn't still be built at this site? If that's what Mr. Anderson really meant to communicate in his original column, that's what he should have written instead of resorting to the personalized rhetorical hysteria that characterized his earlier column.

Joe Geldhof


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